Born in London in 1987, Howard grew up in South Devon, where his mother's collection of folk records helped instill a love for Joni Mitchell
, and Richie Havens
. Howard also developed an interest in surfing, briefly moving to Newquay, the surf capital of the U.K., where he received class credit for working at a surfing magazine. Howard dropped out of school six months shy of graduation, though, convinced by the surf community's enthusiastic response to his music -- which, despite its acoustic folk sound and beachy vibe, sounded more like John Martyn
than Jack Johnson
-- that he should ditch the newsroom and focus on songwriting.
The surf community proved to be a big stepping stone for Howard, who found himself playing to packed audiences long before his music spread beyond the U.K. beaches. A European tour with Xavier Rudd
helped him build a wider audience in late 2008, as did the release of EPs like These Waters and Old Pine. By the time Howard finished recording his full-length debut, Every Kingdom, in 2011, he'd signed a major-label deal with Island Records
(the same label that once released music by John Martyn
) and graduated to headliner status, thanks to growing fan bases in England, Germany, France, and Holland. Every Kingdom proved to be a breakout release in the U.K., earning Howard a Mercury Prize nomination and two BRIT Awards for British Breakthrough Act and British Solo Male Artist, and eventually going platinum.
For his much-anticipated sophomore set, I Forget Where We Were, he took a somewhat more electric approach and was rewarded with strong reviews and sales; it debuted at number one on the U.K. charts. In the spring of 2017, Howard took part in a collaborative project alongside several other artists including Mickey Smith and India Bourne
. The mysterious sextet, called A Blaze of Feather
, began appearing at high-profile U.K. festivals throughout the year, releasing a self-titled full-length a few months later. The year 2018 began with the announcement of Howard's impending third LP, which he introduced with the dreamy seven-minute single "A Boat to an Island on the Wall." The resulting Noonday Dream arrived later that June. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi