This Keaton Henson article was written by Rachael Chinery, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
Keaton Henson’s somewhat unwanted surge to prominence following both his critically acclaimed debut and sophomore album has seen the exceptionally shy Londoner expose his vulnerability and wounded state, and instill an arguably near-forgotten sense of raw emotion in music.
Riddled with self-destructing stage fright and doubt, he has poured this emotion into all his previous releases, via his definitive and staple delicate tone and mere basic instrumentation, with the only sense of musical experimentation coming in the form of ‘Birthdays’’ ‘Kronos’ and instrumental album, ‘Romantic Works’.
That is however, until Henson dropped his surprise, latest and boldest project, ‘Behaving’ and the eponymous LP.
‘Behaving’ flaunts experimentation with deepened vocal effects, particularly seen in ‘False Alarms’ and ‘The River’, painting a far darker and bolder image and perception that was previously unseen from Keaton. It portrays a stronger and more confident sound that could hastily be misjudged as an abandonment from his organic authenticity, until the longing and despair from his lyrics are murmured, and it’s undoubtedly apparent this is, behind the fresh experimental electronic tones, still Keaton Henson.
‘Don’t Dance’ enlists the familiarity of Henson’s modest vocals and timidity, with the extension of electronic loops layered with subtle electronic drums – a style that’s exhibited heavily throughout the nine track collection, with ‘False Alarms’ illustrating a prime example of Keaton’s poetic, somewhat chilling lyrics. It radiates a vibe consistent with James Blake, and this same vibe can be found in ‘Vivisect,’ which produces a familiar vocal line and delivery with an abundance of softly layered sounds. Conversely, the album’s closing track, ‘Confessional’ embodies his staple, sparse and minimalist sound from both ‘Dear’ and ‘Birthdays,’ and draws a distinct similarity to the poignant ‘Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us’.
‘Behaving’ projects a sound that retains Henson’s crooning, harrowing vocals and aching lyrics but experiments with intense, electronic tones and soundscapes to produce an LP of raw, emotive and vivid beauty and a previously undiscovered level of depth. It exposes an entirely unpredicted development in his sound and artistry that undeniably and exceptionally works.
‘Behaving’ is out now via Oak Ten Records.