There were raised eyebrows all round when Ben Howard was named Best Male Artist at the 2013 Brits.
His debut Every Kingdom had been nominated for 2012’s Mercury Prize but there seemed little likelihood that this relative unknown would steal the Brit from under the noses of Plan B, Calvin Harris et al.
Any curious onlookers who picked up Every Kingdom to see what all the fuss was about were likely to have been none the wiser after listening to what was a decent if unspectacular debut from a promising young singer-songwriter.
18 months after the award which made his name, Howard has returned with a record which improves quite dramatically on that debut and marks him out as one to watch.
I Forget Where We Were is folk but with an assuredly hard and rhythmic undertow. Howard’s voice is a warm, expressive instrument and many of the songs here beg to be played in front of a roaring fire while the listener holds a sturdy glass of single malt.
An hour long but never outstaying its welcome, highlights abound but the gorgeous Conrad, woozy opener Small Things and Time is Dancing – the nearest folk gets to a floor filler – are hard to beat.
Like this? Try these: Nick Mulvey, First Mind; John Martyn, Solid Air
By Andrew Greenhalgh