Ben Howard has shared his anxiety-inducing new single, ‘Crowhurst’s Meme’.
The song is the latest effort to be released from the acclaimed British singer-songwriter’s upcoming fourth studio album, Collections From The Whiteout. The album arrives on March 26th through Island Records. The new project was announced last week by Howard, accompanied with the lead single, ‘What A Day’, and after almost three years without a single, the singer has now shared the heartfelt ‘Crowhurst’s Meme’.
What makes Howard’s new album a poignant one – compared to his previous three releases – is that it marks the first time that he has allowed someone from outside his tight-knit band to be involved in the production process. The National’s Aaron Dessner was on production duties for the album and, if you’re going to let an outsider into the fold, you could do much worse than bringing in Dessner, one of the most talented men in music today.
‘Crowhurst’s Meme’ allows Howard to flex his storytelling muscles as he interpreted the story of Donald Crowhurst in the track and features Yussef Dayes, who released a collaborative album with Tom Misch last year. The muse for Howard’s latest effort is a British businessman who died at sea in 1969 in utterly tragic circumstances.
On ‘Crowhurst’s Meme’, Howard said: “This song was firstly inspired by a wonky synth guitar part that I had which had a kind of seasick quality to it, which in my head had a tenuous link to the Donald Crowhurst story – the famous tale of the amateur British sailor who died whilst sailing around the world.”
Adding: “These two things seemed to marry and so it became a sort of exploration of the undocumented universal side of the story.”
Crowhurst died whilst competing in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race and, shortly after starting the race, his ship began taking on water and it became clear he wouldn’t be able to travel at the speed he intended. The Brit gave up on the race but continued to report false positions to try and pretend that he had gone around the world when he’d just pottered around the Atlantic.
He wrote a 25,000-word manifesto in the week leading up to his death, which provided insight into his fragile state of mind. These log-books suggested that the stress and mental breakdown he had suffered whilst isolated for months on the lonely sea that tragically led to Crowhurst committing suicide. Howard deals with this complex story from a very human perspective and how Crowhurst couldn’t live with his actions.
Howard anxiously sings, “Terribly sorry I’m not quite right, Point fiddler, Reed riddling, Saccharine party baby, Laughing and ha hoorah! Well that’s a riverbed sleep, What’s this feeling? And they’ll murder me, If I come back winning, Yeah they’ll murder me”.
Whilst this topic is a tremendously difficult one to pay justice to, Howard attacks it with empathy and from a real human perspective that makes the listener able to relate to the track. Although ‘Crowhurst’s Meme’ is about Donald Crowhurst’s tale, it’s also about imposter syndrome and the anxiety that comes with it. Howard paints a vivid picture of this fear with his lyrics coupled with the sense of stomach-turning dread that drowns out of the song.