Howard Simon appears as a long time songwriter who has only recently taken to sharing his gift and his creativity with the world. The album Visitors is a total pleasure to listen to. As each and every song plays out there are more and more reasons to be grateful that he finally chose to record and release such a thoughtful collection.
Albion is a beautifully easy to listen to folk song. The artist has a gentle and sincere leading voice, and the music on the whole has this very pleasant, laid back ambiance. Underneath it all though, there are these poetic and reflective lyrics, fusing personal and universal life experiences in a wonderful way. In Her Name has the same sense of familiar freshness. The story is unknown to the listener, yet the artist makes it feel so close by and so relevant. The melody teeters between the hopeful and the occasionally melancholic, which works brilliantly in representing the changing moments of the story.
The stories presented throughout Howard Simon’s songs are incredible. The sound is always beautiful, a slight rock edge comes into play for The Devil Every Day, even a touch of Americana and other influences appear from time to time. But what you have at the core of it all is a true songwriter. The songs portray superb and often charming stories that simply need to be told, in whatever manner the artist and the mood of the topic deem worthy. Fortunately, Howard Simon’s leading voice has a softness and style to it that shines brightly in whichever setting you may find it. The whole album has been creatively and consciously written and recorded, and flawlessly produced so as to give off a genuine, classic, professional feel. The cherry on top of this is that the good vibes given by the music are backed up by these incredible stories and vocal melodies. The Devil Every Day features some stunning lyrics and instantly memorable, thought provoking ideas.
Tomorrow Is a Long Time is a raw and intimate recording that offers a uniquely personal and honest account of human depth and emotion. Where You Are has a similar feel to it and follows on well from the mood set by the prior song. Again, some of the lyrics here are absolute gems. You really need to listen in full to the project. When you do, you’re likely to have certain favourite moments and songs that you’ll return to again and again.
“I want people to write their own stories over mine – to find in my songs a memory or an aspiration.” – Howard Simon.
The album’s title track is another thought provoking story that really leaves its mark. The music has that familiar warmth, the artist’s voice is so calming and enjoyable, yet underneath it all – these ideas are so much more than the average folk or pop song tends to offer. It really gets you thinking.
Let It Rise has that personal touch again, a little more insight into not just the mind but the heart of the artist. Then there’s a song called Christmas Day, which is nothing like the title might imply. There are no predictable bells or choruses. Once again, Howard Simon offers a unique story that further showcases his gift for crafting expressive and enchanting folk songs.
On occasion there are snippets of alternative influence, as stated – Normal Life has a slightly jazz-like vibe. The song has an unusual melody that brings about a whole new energy. Sweet Words and History is another one that offers a slight musical evolution with the brass band introduction, and Antonia – a song that bursts into your life with it’s slick and stylish, meandering bass line. Sweet Little Mystery comes with the familiar, acoustic bliss touched on throughout the earlier half of the album. The beat behind this one, the topic, and the style of the melody, bring about not the first moment in fact where a slight Paul Simon vibe has emerged. It’s a pleasant comparison and adds to the warmth of the project.
The Librarian’s Garden offers a higher level of energy, an upbeat and entertaining bit of guitar work, and, as always, another story that leaves you hanging on every word. Then things come to a close with the beautifully atmospheric and skilfully performed Three Horses. The guitar work here is gorgeous, and the song on the whole has this classic or vintage folk sound that again brings both nostalgia and fresh insight. A lovely way to finish. A lovely album in its entirety, from a talented and deeply considerate songwriter with a delightful singing voice.
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