Ben Howard: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert
The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.
Having spent time with Collections from the Whiteout, Ben Howard's sonically adventurous fourth album, I was curious to see how he would adapt these songs to the Tiny Desk (home) concert format. So when the opening shot shows Ben in a room alone, an acoustic guitar in hand, it was both an "oh yeah!" and an "uh-oh" moment. Gone were all those textures that he, Aaron Dessner, and a load of talented musicians had worked on, but front and center was that delicate, reflective voice that I love. It's a voice that, in the recent past, was often swarming in effects and buried in reverb.
So as Ben Howard opens his Tiny Desk with the album's opening track, I found myself zeroing in on the oblique and painterly images of "Follies Fixtures": "Walk with me to the burning spire. / We can count the dеad on Ender's pyre. / The dusty towns whеre the number's found / Don't quite match the missing." He later premieres a new tune, "Oldest Trick In The Book."
"Thanks for having me and allowing me to play the slight variations of songs that I'm forced to settle with at the moment," Ben says, and with that he kicks on the drum machine and plays the music that drew me to his work in 2021. Watch those fingers on the guitar and hear that tone. "Far Out," indeed.
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