Ben Howard - Another Friday Night/Hot Heavy Summer/Sister
Following the release of his long awaited and much acclaimed third album ‘Noonday Dream’ earlier this year, Ben Howard recently announced the release of three previously unheard tracks recorded as part of the Noonday dream sessions. Released on the 13th September, the collection of singles, entitled Another Friday Night/Hot Heavy Summer/Sister includes an unexpected collaboration with American Electro-Pop duo Sylvian Esso.
From the get go it is clear these tracks were not meant for Noonday Dream, they are much less sombre, more upbeat and reminiscent of Howard’s somewhat now iconic debut Every Kingdom. As a fan myself I can confirm that Noonday Dream wasn’t what I expected or hoped the third offering from the Cornwall songwriter would sound like, especially after the career topping I Forget Where We Were. Experimentation is at the core of the album, whereas these three tracks are much more ‘Ben Howard’.
It is reassuring to hear his distinct fingerpicked acoustic guitar style once again on this release on Another Friday Night and songwriting that is more reminiscent of his previous work. The female vocal accompaniment is also a nice touch and a breath of fresh air, especially considering how well it compliments Howard’s own voice.
Another Friday Night is minimal in it’s instrumentation and showcases the personality in his songwriting, as well as his impressive and unique guitar playing which the collection of tracks are built around. There are subtle electronic elements such as a pulsing drum machine that underlie the track, providing a link to his latest release.
Hot Heavy Summer could easily be an I Forget Where We Were B side, echoey guitars ping pong throughout the track in a similar way to Conrad. Once again subtle in it’s instrumentation, the vocal interplay between Howard’s voice and that of Sylvian Esso’s Amelia Meath is at the centre of the track. I would like to entertain the thought that an entire album produced by the two songwriters is not out of the question and have no doubt that hardcore fans will expect nothing less.
Sister is the perfect closer to what I want to call an EP, but will instead refer to it as a ‘collection’ of tracks. Though it sounds like Howard has recorded himself singing in a fridge freezer at times, the 1 minute 57 acapella piece sees Benaccompanied by nothing other than his own voice through a vocoder, one of the many new electronic additions toys incorporated into the mammoth Noonday Dream tour arsenal.
After his 2018 releases, Ben has no doubt divided his fan base but on the contrary strengthened the bond with die hard fans. I enjoyed the familiarity of these three tracks much more than the album and would like to think they are a hint of what is to come next from one of Britian’s finest songwriters.
Words by James Attwood
Ben Howard live dates -
7th December - Hydro Arena, Glasgow
8th December – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
10th December – O2 Apollo, Manchester
11th December – O2 Apollo, Manchester
16th January 2019 – O2 Academy Brixton, London
17th January 2019 – O2 Academy Brixton, London
18th January 2019 – O2 Academy Brixton, London