Keaton Henson: Birthdays – review

(Oak Ten)

A recluse subject to panic attacks in public, Keaton Henson is fearless in the privacy of song. His debut album, Dear, which crept out of his bedroom three years ago, dissected heartbreak with stark honesty. Its followup offers more of the same, but with studio polish: a querulous voice pitched between Conor Oberst and Marcus Mumford, a guitar played as gingerly as if he were handling raw eggs, and a piercing light shone on the dust of the past. "Please do not hurt me love, I am a fragile one," he sings, with affecting simplicity, in 10am, Gare du Nord; only to shrug off love with careless brutality in Teach Me and Lying to You. Mid-album, this unvarying introspection begins to sound maudlin – but then Kronos erupts with malevolent force, all sinewy guitars and pounded drums, briefly stunned into silence by Henson's cutting note to self: "You son of a bitch, stop writing songs like this." Actually, more like Kronos would be great.


Maddy Costa

The GuardianTramp

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