Ben Howard aims to conquer U.S. with "Every Kingdom"

Fri Apr 6, 2012 2:27pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British folk singer Ben Howard admits he initially struggled with his entry onto the U.S. stage at last month's South by Southwest festival in Texas because the reception was overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

Howard whose new album "Every Kingdom" was released in the United States this week, is the latest in a wave of British singer-songwriters such as Adele and Mumford & Sons who are rising up record charts and being embraced by U.S. fans.

But the crowds at Howard's South by Southwest debut in Austin and in live, sold-out shows at New York's Bowery Ballroom have been mildly unsettling for the 24-year-old who grew up in the peaceful English countryside.

"Coming from the UK, you realize how quiet England is, and as soon as you get to America, it's really big and brash and loud out here, and South by Southwest was the epitome of that ... I struggled with it for a bit to be honest, it was quite a full-on experience," the singer admitted in an interview with Reuters.

Still, he has settled into a groove as he makes his way around the United States and "Every Kingdom" gains fans, much as Mumford & Sons, Adele and others did before him. And Howard credits acts such as those for paving the way for his own sound.

"Mumford & Sons have really opened up everyone's ears to music with instruments again, acoustic-based music ... it's reassuring for people like me who have been brought up on acoustic guitar," Howard said. "It's an exciting time for English music over here, there's so much great music coming out of the U.K. at the moment."

The singer cites a diverse range of musicians who inspired him, including singer-songwriters James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, rockers The Black Keys and Icelandic ambient band Sigur Ros.

Howard, who springs from the county of Devon on the Southwest coast of England, also said he drew inspiration from the rural landscapes of his home for the songs "Every Kingdom."   Continued...