Keaton Henson: Kindly Now review

When discussing Keaton Henson’s music sad is often the adjective that comes to mind, yet sadness is seemingly a term that’s overgeneralised, not quite summarising Henson’s haunting, sorrowful sound that evokes numerous feelings summarised by the adjective.

Through songs about love and loss Henson reflects on his subsequent career in his fifth album. It’s opening title March blends the orchestral sounds of Romantic Works with electronic undertones similar to the previous album Behaving. Choosing the piano as his main accompaniment the sound differs slightly from the guitar led tracks on Dear and Birthdays, creating a more classical and harrowing sound. These simple melodies allow his shaky voice to narrate tales of youthful love, anguish and his personal suffering for his art. The album is a creation of honesty as he depicts himself as ‘anti-heroic’; dwelling on past relationships, fallings out with muses and the cost of fame.

Henson’s openness in his music contrasts his intensely private life; his performances are sporadic, held in intimate settings, to limited audiences. He chooses to pursue other endeavours over touring such as his renowned visual art, poetry, film scores and art exhibits. As a sufferer of chronic anxiety stage fright acts as a huge resistant in his enthusiasm to perform, which is reflected in his first performance back in March 2012. This performance took place in a Shoreditch gallery where one by one, visitor donned headphones and peered through a hole which contained a projection of Henson singing live from the next room, emphasising the separation of artist and audience.

Henson’s music is an exposure of his soul. Inspiration originally sparking from a painful break up at 18 and an exploration of relationships since. His art is almost self-sacrificial; he bares his soul for his listeners, his readers, his fans all in the hope of creating a lasting piece of work.

Kindly Now was released on the 16th of September.