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KUMD Album Reviews: Keaton Henson


Beautiful, dark and emotionally intensive, the 2nd album from singer/songwriter Keaton Henson entitled "Birthdays" is a riptide of indie rock and folk that is truly set apart from your normal indie solo artist.The first half of the record starts slower. As the first half of the album consists of Henson's falsetto vocals mixed with slower paced folk guitar and even the occasional harmony. Lyrically, the record is poignant, the opening track "Teach Me" is about not being able to change enough to show you love someone, while later in the album the track "Lying to You" is about how Keaton is with someone who he doesn't love because the one he truly loves has long since left. He does a great job of adding these haunting guitar parts as he sings of these incredibly somber subjects. The album's halfway mark track "The Best Today" uses a snare drum under his soft guitar to lull you into a place of peace and tranquility. Then, suddenly the track "Don't Swim" kicks in. While the beginning of the song is very similar to the earlier half of the album, slow guitar and emotional singing, he whispers "don't lie" over and over until the song explodes into a sonic, distorted, shoe-gaze style guitar that could only be compared to that of any great 90's alternative and emo rocker. Suddenly all the pain and heartache comes out into real evocative structures like the marching and chanting of "Beekeeper" or the grand brass ending of the song "Sweetheart, What Have You Done to Us". What this album does phenomenally well is personalize Henson as his own artist. The songs themselves are pieces of Henson's somber soul. "Birthdays" in general is the kind of record that fits perfectly with this never ending winter, and although most of the album is in general bleak, the last track "In the Morning" reminds us "There may be questions in your head, As a new day is dawning, Like what things for us lie ahead. But woman, I will see you in the morning."

Recommended Tracks: "Teach Me", "Lying to You", "Don't Swim", "Beekeeper", "Sweetheart", "What Have You Done To Us"

Sounds Like: Modest Mouse, The Antlers, Junip, Mount Moriah, Iron and Wine