Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs at Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, Calif.
The quiet that forms in people's mouths can be so wrenching, so heartbreaking that it becomes unbearable. It becomes like a furnace or a cage. It becomes something that traps you and then cooks you. It's this quiet that can lead to misunderstandings and some of them can be damaging. Others can be nascent, easily shaken off or ignored. They can be forgotten about or swept under the closest rug.
Ben Howard, and English singer and songwriter from London, is a polite study of these predicaments, of these configurations. He respects their muted steps and the ways in which people find to interact with one another when they've run out of energy. He writes of passion when it's passionate and he writes about the ghost of passion - along with the people that it's left behind. It's beautiful. It really is. You can hear it for yourself. It sounds a little like this fantastic poem by Stephen Dunn, called, "The Unsaid.
"One night they both needed different things
Of a similar kind; she, solace; he, to be consoled.
So after a wine-deepened dinner
When they arrived at their house separately
In the same car, each already had been failing
The other with what seemed
An unbearable delay of what felt due.
What solace meant to her was being understood
So well you'd give it to her before she asked.
To him, consolation was a network of agreements: say what you will
As long as you acknowledge what I mean.
In the bedroom they undressed and dressed
And got into bed. The silence was what fills
A tunnel after a locomotive passes through.
Days later the one most needy finally spoke.
"What's on TV tonight?" he said this time,
and she answered, and they were okay again.
Each, forever, would remember the failure
To give solace, the failure to be consoled.
And many, many future nights
Would find them turning to their respective sides
Of the bed, terribly awake and twisting up
The covers, or, just as likely, moving closer
And sleeping forgetfully the night long."