Halls – the solo project of 23 year old South London musician Sam Howard – released a debut album, ‘Ark’, in November 2012. A long twelve months later – after rapt reviews and a stint modelling for Hedi Slimane in Paris – Howard’s second album is here, and the changes are marked.
“This is an album about opening up. Ark is the cold album, closed-off, obscure and confusing. I obscured lyrics and hid behind reverb and mumbling. For this album I wanted to reach out more. In some ways it is darker than Ark. I feel that I struggle to connect with a lot of people and I want to connect somehow. Love to Give is about opening up and becoming more of a human being.”
In his new work, Howard has replaced apprehension and doubt with a muted hope, and just as the sentiment has shifted, as too the compositions and arrangements have moved into the real world. Ark’s electronic templates have ceded to – as Howard says – “embrace the sound of human beings”, and the instrumental palate has widened: brass, tuned percussion, woodwinds, and organs now flesh out the tracks, with digital percussion only used for texture rather than structure. Much was recorded in a theatre in London’s Woolwich, with Howard’s vocals recorded naturally in the large main hall, and passing traffic and street noise can be heard faintly throughout the album.