Four years after the gem ‘I forget Where We Were’, Ben Howard has released his third studio album titled ‘Noonday Dream’. After a complete change in sound from his first album to his second. we see this continue into his third. The 31-year-old British musician continues to show his progress of musical maturity. The ten-track record was recorded in the UK as well as Southwest France over a two-year period. Howard wrote and produced the album with some help from Mikey Smith, who is Howard’s friend and bandmate. Howard’s third album contains ten related scenes that gradually paint a vivid journey of a man seeking a life beyond a depression filled past.
‘Noonday Dream’ shares a collection of deep and pure sounds that are similar to those heard in ‘I forget Where We Were’. Including body-moving guitar riffs, nature-esque pad and chord progressions, dramatic build-ups, and Ben’s quiet yet powerful vocals. The album opens with a dreamy six-and-a-half-minute song titled “Nica Libres At Dusk”. The third single from the album, that takes us on a journey above the clouds. The atmospheric opener sets a positive mood for the record. Ben sings about keeping his mind on the good that lies ahead as he buries the weight of the past.
Howard continues the positive feel with track five “Someone In the Doorway”. He makes it clear that he is not ready to lie down in defeat with the opening lines of the song. “Go find someone else, I am not ready to die”. While he does recognize the darkness that is present in his life, we hear his mental victory as he continues to decline the presence anxiety and depression that is shadowing over him. Howard leaves us with an outro that celebrates his victory. He has successfully found the good in the bad that life had brought him. Expressed with the lyrics “Into the light of a bad dream, Into the laughter of a war”.
Howard describes his winning battle with anxiety and depression as well as with love in “What The Moon Does”. Finding a sense of positivity in times that he may have spent dwelling in darkness because of choices he made or events that took place. He claims that he’s moved past those dark times as he sings “most things now make me smile”. Showing he’s found life after being surrounded by sadness. Howard weaves in and out of happiness and sadness throughout the album as he reflects on the times that allowed him to value moments of pure happiness.
Jumping to track seven “The Defeat” we hear a deep lying digeridoo that builds an enlightening ambiance. Howard opens up about eye opening societal issues involving how relaxed we allow ourselves to be in a world filled with constant wrongdoings as if these acts are ordinary and vindicated. He claims that we live our lives with our eyes forward not looking at the issues happening around us. He sarcastically says “The world is always at ease, at ease, at ease, Don’t you see?”. We have become so accustomed to hearing the news of tragedies from attacks and disasters that we aren’t phased anymore. “And the deaths on the highways from drinking in the casinos feel so natural”. Howard speaks from a standpoint of realization of the numbness that society has forced us to adapt to in order to deal with the everyday calamities we face. Society has given us the ability to lie down in defeat and turn our backs on the wrongdoings we witness. “Turns out we don’t all fight like dogs in the end. Most of us want to roll out; roll under the grass”.
Ben Howard’s third studio album ‘Noonday Dream’ is high quality from start to finish. It may not be an album for everyone. It is definitely not as easy listening as ‘Every Kingdom’, Howard’s first album, which contained more “singalong” tracks. Noonday Dream is similar to ‘I Forget Where We Were’ but it leans a bit more on the experimental side as Howard brings us down a beaten path of recovery filled with the stillness of nature.
Ben Howard begins his North American tour in September with support from Maryland natives, Wye Oak.