It’s been a long 48 hours of parenting while Kelly has been working and in that time I’ve squeezed in lots of cuddle time, watched an insane amount of Disney television, arranged a play date, attended a Ghost Walk around Niagara-on-the-Lake, hosted friends for dinner, spectated at the Niagara Falls International Marathon and, yeah, slip in a 40k bike ride into a ree-DONK-ulous headwind, a last run over the lawn with the mower and all on approximately 7 hours of sleep in total and, well, let’s just say I’m pretty beat. I’ve been hung on, clung to and otherwise peppered for the past two days with an endless barrage of redundant and ridiculous questions – very exhausting indeed. But before I drift off into a coma for the rest of the weekend, I want one last go around at the gym and unwind a little with the weights with some new music I’ve been looking forward to checking out, beginning with the ‘Every Kingdom‘ by Ben Howard. ‘Every Kingdom’ is the first studio album by the British singer-songwriter troubadour in the same vein as Nick Drake, although it’s probably more indebted to Jack Johnson, Ray LaMontagne or, say, Newton Falkner. Anyway, it was originally released in the United Kingdom on September 30th, 2011 as a digital download, on CD, on LP and as a 200 copy limited edition cassette. I stole it off the Kickass Torrents website (sorry Ben). It reached a peak chart position of #4 in the UK Albums Chart in February of 2013 following his success at the Brit Awards that week. Yay Ben.
The album has layers of beautiful songs that are full of meaning, wonderful vocals and unique guitar parts with extra percussion and background singers to give it a full sound while it does not stray away from its acoustic roots. There are some intense songs, alluring love songs, and mellow songs that are uplifting yet sad at the same time. As I listening to this album between sets in a completely empty gym, I recognized a certain warmth and familiarity to it that I just couldn’t put my finger on, but I definitely loved it In fact, half the time I didn’t know if I was inspired to really to giv’er with the weights or sit down and cry – good thing the gym was empty I guess. Very confusink.
There’s lots of great tracks to choose from like ‘The Wolves‘, ‘Everything‘, ‘Diamonds‘ and ‘Old Pine‘, but there are two particular standouts: ‘Keep Your Head Up‘ (which will forever remain on my iPod) and the 6+ minute ‘Promise’ to close out the album. This is definitely an album I’ll be looking to add to my future record collection as the digitized version will not be enough to keep me happy going forward. Easily one of the best albums I’ve heard this year – hands down. However, as awesome as it is, there’s only 50 minutes worth of music on the album and that’s just not enough tunage to sustain an entire weights workout today so I also happen to have his newest ‘Burgh Island‘ EP as well.
Released the following year in 2012, this was really my first introduction to Ben following the 5th episode of Season 4 of ‘The Walking Dead’, when they played the slow and haunting track ‘Oats in the Water‘ off this particular EP. I was blown away and ended up hunting this EP out along with the previous album.
This EP demonstrates a darker, more methodical side to his songs represented in the previous album, more highlighted by the use of the electric guitar rather than his acoustic; even still, the gritty, and albeit, gloomy sound does not take away from the emotion and soul that is put into the lyrics and songs themselves. The songs themselves were all inspired by his memories from surfing the beaches of Burgh Island. Why so dark then? Is surfing dark? Jack Johnson doesn’t seem like such a dark dude so what’s Ben’s deal? Anyway, beats me. But it sure suits not only the overcast gloom outside right now, but my exhausted mood and particular mindset this moment as I work myself through this last slow and methodical weights workout this afternoon. Is it Monday yet?
Did I really just
say type that?