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Keaton Henson - 'Birthdays'

This second album finds Keaton Henson breaking out a little from the intense, introverted folk of his debut

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Hardly the celebration the title suggests, 23-year-old Keaton Henson’s second album finds the shy Richmond guitar-picker breaking out a little from the intense, introverted folk of his debut, ‘Dear…’. Not that you’d know it from the first half of the record. Henson spends 20-odd minutes working his tremulous voice – somewhere between Paul Simon and Wayne Coyne – around echoing guitar, pleading “Please don’t hurt me/I am the fragile one” (‘10am, Gare Du Nord’) and crying “Although I’m young I feel 80 years old” (‘Lying To You’) as the music fades from reach, delicate as a butterfly’s wing. Then suddenly he finds the socket and ‘Don’t Swim’ rages into life, his guitar bashed and throttled. By the time the leering, sickly ‘Kronos’ rattles by, Henson is an entirely different beast, his famously crippling stage fright the memory of another man, and his future looks a bit more bullish.
Matthew Horton
7 / 10

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