Keaton Henson, is another addition to the growing cult of shy seemingly downcast bedroom poets, laying their distant voices and quasi autobiographical lyrics over quiet strings. His new album ‘Birthdays’, a follow up to last years ‘Dear’, advances upon his already developed capacities as a songwriter, drawing influence from a seemingly inexhaustible spring of soured adolescent relationships and lonely reflections. The track spearheading ‘Birthdays’ entitled ‘Lying to You’, a beautifully woven balled conveying the short tale of an narrator warped up in persevering his appearance of being in love. Playing his guitar as sensitively as he sings, Henson creates a powerful and emotive song, tracking the confessions of his narrators tangled heart, and slowly winding his song into the last sad whisper of “Once I found her and now she is gone”.
Breaking away from his comfort zone of small sounds, the aggressive ‘Kronus’ adds a dimension unseen on Henson’s debut album. The song, an electric wall of bitterness directed at a former lover, possesses a more obvious feeling than perhaps the other songs on the album, and offers a welcome break from the abundance of slower less vocal songs.
Caught in limbo between ‘Lying to You’ and the far heavier ‘Kronus’ is ‘Sweetheart, what have you done to us?’, undergoing a treatment of gentle guitar riffs and horn accompaniment, but sticking largely to the same subject matter of thwarted love, a track suited to send the album towards its conclusion. It is evident that Henson has developed, either due to the studio quality of his latest album, or the wider variety of tone that is included on it. Regardless, ‘Birthdays’ is a work well worth a listen, even if the music of moping isn’t to your taste.