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First Thoughts Review: Cliff Howard 'Ego & Heartaches' EP

Cliff Howard is a singer-songwriter from London, living in a small village in North Wales. His influences bring together a blend of Americana, folk and country music and having spent some time travelling the United States, has been able to draw upon these experiences in his songwriting and recording.

Howard had a busy gigging life in a number of London-based bands however, it wasn't until he moved to North Wales that he found himself returning to his musical roots and found the time to focus on his songwriting.

Egos and Heartaches is the latest release by Howard and brings together, what I believe to be a sense of old-school classic country & folk music. Maybe It's Just Me is the leading track on the record which encompasses the laid back strings of a pedal steel & acoustic guitar with simple, yet elegant electric guitar. The instrumentation alone would make you think that the song was one of love & beauty but listening deeper we realise that the lyrical content is one of heartache and loss.

Life ain't what it used to be is another laid back track, accompanied by female vocals to create a duet that talks of losing that person that used to be your everything - moving on and realising life has changed a 'isn't what is used to be'. I interpret the next song Going Home to be familiar territory for many artists - being on the road, travelling from town to town but finally looking to going back to the place they call home.

Vintage Red is a lovely piece of instrumentation that encorporates poetic acoustic and electric guitar picking. It is a great addition to the EP as it is very rare that we heard pieces of music with no lyrical content.

The final track on the EP is called Dream of You. It is by far the most upbeat of the collection of songs which is always a great way to round off an EP. Additionally, this song also has an underlying positive message and encourages the listener to keep dreaming, keep believing!

Listen to the EP:

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