Keaton Henson – Dear
Never feeling ordinary can be both a good and bad thing.
You seem to discover ordinary when you try something outlandish and crazy. This album is very unordinary. It’s Keaton Henson with a guitar, singing about loss, love, and life — essentially. What makes this completely unorthodox is the simple fact he does it with the utmost feeling of sorrow. Listening to Henson is like listening to the end of everything. The credits of a movie. The long drive after a great time. The walk home after an experience.
Henson is channeling his inner folk artist on this album, where it’s just him and his guitar and he has things to say. Just like any folk artist, he’s got stories to tell in a fashion that only fits him. Whether the music is sparse or energetic, the music manages to keep the very same vibe. It sounds like a complete album in that respect. With his falsetto delivery and his jangly guitar, Henson delivers a truly remarkable album.
‘You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are’ is perennial and simply one of the best tracks of this year. His absolute somber mood with everything is sometimes interesting, sometimes gorgeous, and other times downright scary. On this track, he delivers with the pitch harmonics and melancholic lyrics like:
“Does he know who you are?
Does he laugh, just to know what he has?
Does he know not to talk about your dad?
Does he know when you’re sad?”
Breathtaking, in a word.
‘Charon’ harks back to some mythology and talking about paying the toll to the underworld with “coins on my eyes”. The music is very ethereal, and while the album doesn’t divert much of its sound by sounding almost identical on every track, you seem to really take in the music as one whole track, rather than 10 different ones.
‘Oliver Dalston Browning’ talks about a ship captain and is a prime example of how Henson can utilise his voice as if it’s an instrument itself — one not quite as poignant as Jeff Buckley’s — but of a similar calibre. ‘Sarah Minor’ is definitely a stand-out track because, in one sense, it’s so soothing and relatable. It carries a “through faults and blemishes, I still love you” sort of message. ‘Small Hands’ has a spaciousness about itself inbetween the jangly words and guitar, and there’s a very distinct air about the song that lends it an almost addictive quality.
Henson definitely brings a lot to the table and makes the listener want to hear more, and his falsetto voice is something otherworldly. This whole album is a Hell of a debut, and will perfectly suit those with a penchant for depressing music – particularly when, as in Henson’s case — it can become uplifting.