With a slow lingering start, the second album to come from relatively reclusive singer/songwriter Keaton Henson is everything we were expecting and unfortunately not all that much more.
Much as you would expect the reappearance of guns, explosions and family issues from the next instalment of the Die Hard film franchise, so would you anticipate Keaton Henson’s next record Birthdays to feature a further selection of deeply emotional songs of loss and loneliness. Following on from his 2012 debut Dear, this second collection of heartbreakingly honest songs continues in a wholly similar fashion, full to the brim with hopeless anguish and overflowing with desperate remorse.
Cloaked in Henson’s trademark timidity and agonisingly tangible sadness, You strongly resembles a Damien Rice ditty, with the aid of slow building crescendos, as the warbling vocals cut morosely through to the listeners’ very core.
Teach Me is a true testament to Henson’s song writing skills, on which his own feelings of pain expertly articulated. With a lingering introduction not entirely unlike that of Manchester Orchestra’s I Can Feel A Hot One, the bearded ballad specialist has produced a poignant track, to which the nation’s youth can actively despair to, easily reaching the depths of their heartbroken souls.
The meaty backbone of the otherwise pacified Birthdays, comes in the form of fiery Kronos and the gleeful taunting jeers of Beekeeper, giving the audience an all too short-lived glimpse of the overwhelming rage and bitterness which inevitably goes hand in hand with the sorrow of heartbreak. Bitterness rears its fantastic ugly head as the lovelorn crooner spits superbly hostile lyrics (‘I gave you all I had…the devil’s got nothing on me my friend’) that are sure to strike a painfully familiar chord with the listener, providing welcome respite from being plunged through the depths of Henson’s own self-sympathetic wallowing.
Birthdays takes the listener on a proverbial rollercoaster of emotion that so many of us experience in the wake of a love broken down. Whilst a distinct sense of déjà vu is apparent throughout the duration of the album, Birthdays does magnificently demonstrate Henson’s enviable ability to freeze a moment in time for the purpose of intense reflection, allowing the listener to revel and lose themselves in their own personal emotions.
There is an air of innocent fragility to the introverted artists’ penmanship and we are excited to see what will come next from the tortured soul that is Keaton Henson.