Keaton Henson shares more on Kindly Now

kindly-nowKeaton Henson has crafted a career from writing immersive and deeply sad indie folk songs. His new album, Kindly Now, is no exception to the rule, giving us a glimpse into his inner struggles. From failing to connect with others to coping with anxiety, Henson is both candid in his storytelling and, in parts, determined that he will overcome his troubles. Across the record, Henson’s quivering voice is the main attraction. With his disarmingly timid falsetto, Henson trudges through twelve bittersweet orchestral heartbreakers.

Opening track “March”, a mash-up of diced samples and textures, showcases Henson’s more experimental side before the record plummets into the more familiar-sounding and frail “Alright”. Tipping a hat to fellow folk connoisseurs Perfume Genius and Destroyer, the song is stirringly beautiful, as Henson acknowledges that depression and heartbreak will follow him wherever he goes, but remains — in his own deadpan way — defiant: "Obviously my wounds are open to see, But don't take them seriously, I'll be fine." Once again experimental in colour, the anthemic ‘Comfortable Love’ opens with swaying, lazily-picked guitars; its compelling sound is similar to the madness of Dean Blunt’s Black Metal as it bursts into a malaise of soaring harmonies.

In “The Pugilist”, with its dramatic strings and torn melody, Henson fights his corner as a serious artist, (“Don’t forget me, I still have art in me yet”), and implies that suffering for his art is a small price to pay to feel alive (“To remind me I'm living, And that I still need it”). Filled with cascading guitars and shivering cellos, “The Pugilist” is the record’s standout and most heartbreaking moment.

In contrast, Kindly Now’s most upbeat moment is the soulful Afro gospel, indie rock "Holy Lover". With this ode to Paul Simon’s Graceland, Henson nervously confesses I think I love you, baby please don’t be afraid of me.” The song feels like a turning point for Henson, not only on the album, but in his personal life too.

 The therapy continues on “How Could I Have Known” and “Good Lust”, as Henson continues to pick at the scabs of past relationships. Unable to let his insecurities dissipate, Henson sings about love like an awkward, heavy-hearted teenager, whispering lyrics “know that our love was real but I broke the deal all out I the cold, baby come hold me close, please don’t let me drown”, before the record comes to rest with the retreating sound of piano.

 Shaking off labels such as the 'British Jeff Buckley', Henson has grown into his sound over time. If Birthdays was his attempt at self-loathing, then Kindly Now is his attempt at therapy; as with the album’s artwork, Henson has painted a self-portrait of himself and plastered over his faults. Stitched together with lulling orchestras, romantic sentiments and quivering vocals, the anxiety-ridden Kindly Now is an obscured window into the mind of one of music’s most reclusive characters.

Release: 16th September 2016, Play It Again Sam

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