By Amanda Nordqvist
Perfectly balancing the familiarity of his first few albums with the highly modern intrigue of his alter ego, Behaving, the latest release of darling Keaton Henson is a perfectly timed introduction to the darker seasons swiftly approaching. Henson’s minimalistic sound, at times paired with eager experimentalism, but always carried by the heartfelt fragility of his voice, hasn’t changed significantly – but the increased depth of his lyrics, and the wider perspective they now offer, show a major growth in the humble artist.
Certainly, love (and its many paradoxes) has always been a subject close to Henson’s heart, and one that he has always been the prime example of – his feverish searching, holding too tight, leaving behind. It all comes down to love and death and not allowing it the space it needs – always too much or too little. Henson’s work has persistently been a kind of commentary on the impossible expectations we as a species seem to have of love and interaction, and is simultaneously a careful example of what anxiety and, occasionally, self loathing might sound like. This theme continues with Kindly Now, but is gracefully explored a bit further.
Henson showcases a significant amount of self distance in the newly released album, with phrases like, “I need pain for my art / Take my lungs, break my heart”, as well as a thrilling new sound with the rough, desperate ‘Comfortable Love’, the track I favour the most. Henson definitely hasn’t been sitting on his hands these past few years, and his experimentation with Romantic Works and Behaving undoubtedly had its part in producing this brilliantly paced album.
I sincerely hope that our tormented artist one day realises to which extent his art has inspired his followers, in the way he turns his pain into a thing of beauty and familiarity – but I somehow doubt he ever will.