Posts Tagged ‘Keaton henson’

The porcelain figurine on the cover of this album tells you enough: if you want to smile, you better not do it with this music in your ears. We don’t expect anything else from Keaton Henson. This troubled musician always brings us convulsive emotions into his compositions, but oh, he always does that more than well. He agrees in opener “Ambulance”, where he sighs: ‘I’m empty but don’t it sound so good?’ “Monument” released through Play It Again Sam is Keaton’s first album since 2016’s Kindly Now. Keaton Henson’s new album “Monument” is a rare thing. It is an album about loss, and dealing with losing the ones we love, but told, in incredibly candid detail, through the aspects of our lives that surround the trauma itself, about love, ageing, recovery, life, seen through the prism of grief.

With the posting of an enigmatic and cryptic goodbye in 2016; Epilogue, Henson’s next project ended up becoming Six Lethargies, a complex and ambitious symphony for string orchestra, dealing with the minutiae of mental illness. He put away the guitar and retreated to his home for three years to compose it. Monument now finds Keaton re-emerging with an album of songs about grief, and how it permeates our lives. The record began when, having recovered from both Six Lethargies and the circumstances that inspired it, Henson moved from London to the wilds of the English countryside, spending long days outside chopping wood, tending to the grounds, and watching birds of prey soaring above. It was from this remote outpost that he finally felt ready to look at a subject he had been avoiding for his entire song writing career; the decades long illness, and imminent death of his father, who passed two days before he finished recording the album.

While the singer normally opens up about heartache or fear of people in his lyrics, Monument has a possible even more personal theme: the death of his increasingly ill father. This is most strongly confirmed in “The Grand Old Reason”, where he writes some of his most heart breaking sentences: ‘But like you / I have tried for so long not to cry / That I don’t even know if I can when you die’. Yet we gasp most when, after “Prayer,” an excerpt from an old home video is heard saying Keaton’s father “Keaton, wave to daddy.” This spirited, delicate folk hits a whole new set of strings, with Henson only expanding his emotional empire even more.

Monument” released through Play It Again Sam Records,

Returning to the intimate acoustics of his debut, Keaton’s fourth album as a singer-songwriter is a devastating meditation on loss, brought to life with all the pain and beauty that has been his art form for the last 10 years.

It was from a remote outpost in the english countryside that Keaton finally felt ready to confront the decades long illness, and imminent death of his father, who passed two days before he finished recording the album. Keaton: “i made it at home, mostly alone, to the sound of birds and rainstorms, at strange hours of day and night. once the bones were recorded, i was somewhat unexpectedly joined by an amazing group of people, who came to musically lift me on their shoulders, and take these unsaid feelings to another plain in terms of sound.”

“Monument” released through Play It Again Sam is Keaton’s first album since 2016’s Kindly Now. Keaton Henson’s new album “Monument” is a rare thing. It is an album about loss, and dealing with losing the ones we love, but told, in incredibly candid detail, through the aspects of our lives that surround the trauma itself, about love, ageing, recovery, life, seen through the prism of grief. With the posting of an enigmatic and cryptic goodbye in 2016; Epilogue, Henson’s next project ended up becoming Six Lethargies, a complex and ambitious symphony for string orchestra, dealing with the minutiae of mental illness. He put away the guitar and retreated to his home for three years to compose it. Monument now finds Keaton re-emerging with an album of songs about grief, and how it permeates our lives.

The record began when, having recovered from both Six Lethargiesand the circumstances that inspired it, Henson moved from London to the wilds of the English countryside, spending long days outside chopping wood, tending to the grounds, and watching birds of prey soaring above. It was from this remote outpost that he finally felt ready to look at a subject he had been avoiding for his entire song-writing career; the decades long illness, and imminent death of his father, who passed two days before he finished recording the album.

Prayer, a performance. taken from the upcoming album Monument, out 23rd October 2020.

For those unfamiliar with his work, Keaton Henson is an English folk-rock musician and poet, whose work incorporates a range of influences from contemporary to classical.

His work is also intensely performative, despite Keaton’s famously intense anxiety that has, for much of his career, precluded him from live performance. From an early age, Keaton learned to “gild the domestic cage” of his introspective world with “images and songs and poems of his imagined worlds” – not to mention music.

Keaton’s eagerly-awaited new album Kindly Now was released in September and to gain an insight into the music that’s shaped his own as he’s battled with isolation, Its such a rewarding listen,

‘Kindly Now’, his fourth album, is actually much the same of the same Keaton formula, an analysis of his own depression and anxiety, mixed with a healthy dose of self-loathing. However, it does feature a new side to him, with songs sounding much fuller and more arranged than previously, and a vocal delivery that’s a lot stronger than previous albums. In the track ‘Alright’, Keaton almost sounds angry at his inadequacies, a surge of weight behind his words, unlike his usual self-deprecating whine. I think on the whole this is a braver album, with Keaton owning up to his shortcomings without asking for a dashing of pity. The track ‘Old Lover’s In Dressing Rooms’ is particularly beautiful, detailing a conversation adrift with tension and woe between Keaton and an ex (presumably so anyway). It’s a great songwriting technique and catches the mood of a certain type of closeness between two people, a feeling most if not all of us have experienced and can understand.

Keaton Henson has crafted a career from writing immersive and deeply sad indie folk songs. “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, Once again experimental in colour, the anthemic ‘Comfortable Love’ opens with swaying, lazily-picked guitars;

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.

Play It Again Sam Records

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Alright is taken from Keaton Henson’s new album ‘Kindly Now’. Released September 16th,

Poet, composer, visual artist and songwriter Keaton Henson, is perhaps unsurprisingly a busy man. That might well go some way to explaining why his upcoming album, Kindly Now, has been four years in the making. Keaton has described the record as his most emotionally stripped back record to date, and has hinted it’s, “an unheroic and unsettling examination of past loves, the role of the artist, and owning up to your own destruction.”

While we won’t here the fruits of Kindly Now’s recording until September, this week he has released the first taster of that music in the shape of new track, Alright. Venturing into new music from an artist as versatile and prolific at Keaton is always a thrilling prospect, but what truly shines on Alright is the beautiful simplicity of it all. There’s little more to the track than an echoing, raw piano, and Keaton’s arresting vocal, other instruments drift in and out of earshot, but the star is Keaton himself. Keaton has suggested the track is about the perils of success, the, “very English way of grinning through the pain” at having to be on display to earn the opportunity to make the music he wants to, as he sings, “don’t make me go outside, god knows what out there lies, I’m hoping I don’t die after you.” Emotionally honest, beautiful performed, it’s one of the most atmospheric and beautiful tracks we’ve heard all year, and ironically one that is only going to project Keaton Henson even further into fame’s unerring spotlight.

Kindly Now is out September 16th via Play It Again Sam. Keaton Henson plays London in November,

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‘Behaving’ is the new electronic side-project from singer-songwriter and composer, Keaton Henson. Released via The Vinyl Factory on physical for the first time, this first edition hosts a limited art print hand signed and numbered by the musician.

After two years of working on his, yet untitled, followup to the critically acclaimed album “Birthdays”, Henson decided to close the door and begin experimenting with electronics and new ways of creating his sound. The result of his exhaustion and brief window of time is showcased in through this record, ‘Behaving’.

‘Behaving’ is an entirely self made record, mostly recorded in the dark, with many lyrics and vocals improvised in one take. It is a dark and, at times, unsettling exploration of love, ego and the creative process.

The launch of ‘Behaving’ comes full circle for Keaton Henson, who quietly released his limited edition, hand-made debut album “Dear” in 2012, before a surprise Zane Lowe play led to a flurry of investigation into Henson’s identity and whereabouts.

Following acute stage-fright and choosing not to perform or promote his record in a conventional manner, his heavier second album ‘Birthdays’ saw Keaton make an astonishing return to the live arena.

Despite his inability to read or write music, “Romantic Works” was surprise-released on the same day of Henson’s biggest, immediately-sold-out show to date (headlining London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall at the request of James Lavelle). It quickly picked up plays across Radio 1, XFM, Classic FM and Spotify’s viral chart (Keaton has a fiercely loyal, million-plus following on Soundcloud alone) and climaxed with Henson staging a DIY, immersive production of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for two-sold out nights at Oval Space, in association with The Barbican.

In recent months Henson has completed a full-length score for the ballet ‘Young Men’ with Balletboyz and choreographer Ivan Perez, his first collection of Poetry entitled ‘Idiot Verse’, and an illustrated songbook with Faber.

Birthdays, Dear and Romantic Works back on vinyl due to popular demand.

Pianist, vocalist and heartbreaker Keaton Henson has announced that all three of his acclaimed and hugely popular full length LPs are to be repressed on vinyl. Henson’s 2011 debut Dear, reissued on vinyl by The Vinyl Factory earlier this year with a hand-signed print, will be repressed featuring three bonus songs not available on the original album.

Cementing his reputation at the vanguard of a new generation of songwriters in the Jeff Buckley and Elliott Smith vein, Henson’s 2013 follow up Birthdays is also slated for repress, featuring three bonus tracks ‘Milk Teeth’, ‘If I Don’t Have To’ and ‘On the News’, which you can listen to below.

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The series is completed by Henson’s stripped down instrumental suite Romantic Works, also released by The Vinyl Factory with a signed print in 2014. The repress will include the original bonus track ‘La Naissance’ and a remix by producer and composer Ulrich Schnauss.

All three represses are available now and are pressed on 180gram vinyl featuring artwork by Henson himself.

Order Dear now.

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Order Birthdays now.

Order Romantic Works now.

Watch our the one-shot video for ‘Party Song’ (taken from Dear)

Watch Keaton Henson’s stunning performance of ‘Party Song’ from his debut album Dear.

Ever since its official release in 2012 which saw all 1000 copies fly off the shelf, Keaton fans have continuously demanded a vinyl re-release of his cult heartbreak album Dear. The day has finally arrived – and could the timing be any better with Valentine’s Day just around the corner?

To mark the release, we invited Keaton to our Brewer Street Car Park Space for a secret gig. Featuring Harry Cameron-Penny on bass clarinet and recorded using Shure KSM141 microphones, watch his mesmerising and achingly beautiful performance of ‘Party Song’ in the film above.

Released by The Vinyl Factory, the Dear reissue features all the tracks from the original album plus three ‘re-produced’ bonus tracks. The edition comes housed in a bespoke matt sleeve with spot UV debossed artwork and an exclusive fine art print by Keaton himself, individually hand numbered and signed.

 

 

 

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Keaton Henson is an English folk rock musician, visual artist and poet from London. As a musician Henson usually sings and plays guitar. Henson suffers from serious stage fright and, as a result, he rarely plays concerts.

Henson wrote and recorded his second album in less than a year. He travelled to California to record the album and worked with American producer Joe Chiccarelli. In February 2013 he released Birthdays.  A limited edition version of the album was released featuring three bonus songs and a hand-painted piece of art, taken from a large painting Henson made and cut up into 196 pieces. Birthdays has spawned three singles so far: “Lying to You”, “Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us” and “You” (which was a limited edition 7″ single for Record Store Day with an etching by Henson on the b-side). The album was also released as a very limited book edition, featuring illustrations made by different artists accompanying the songs. In 2012 and 2013, Henson performed sporadically, usually in tiny venues, galleries or museums. In late 2013 he performed in three churches around England.

In August 2013 NPR Music published a live ‘Tiny Desk Concert’ on YouTube  with the set list “You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are”, “Sweetheart What Have You Done To Us”, and “You”.

On 16 June 2014 Henson performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London as part of the James Lavelle-curated Meltdown festival. Earlier on the day of the expected gig, Henson released a new album with no previous announcement. The album, his third, titled Romantic Works and featuring cellist Ren Ford