He fears being forgotten, but Kindly Now makes Keaton Henson hard to forget.PIAS, 2016
8.0 / 10
If Birthdays was Keaton Henson’s proper introduction to the world, he clearly isn’t used to the attention that comes with being a musician yet as Kindly Now affirms. Suffering from terrible social anxiety, it’s remarkable that we’re allowed to even watch Henson in a live setting. However, it would be a greater loss if we didn’t get music from him at all. The soft, somber arrangements on Kindly Now are weapons of emotional destruction; tugging at the heartstrings if not tearing apart the human soul. Strings are a huge part of Kindly Now much like Birthdays. They imbue a tortured state of being as Henson’s frail voice trembles to powerful heights. Ideas that he expresses on Kindly Now include failed relationships, being forgotten by his fans, and being crippled by his anxiety.
Despite its heavy subject matter, Kindly Now isn’t as devastating as Bowie’s Blackstar or Nick Cave’s Skeleton Tree, which opens it up to more repeated listens. The album is quite confessional, as we’ve come to expect from Henson. His songs are ripe with painful details. “Old Lovers In Dressing Rooms”, Henson recalls a chance meeting with a past flame — She tells me she is happy now/ She really loves him and they have a house. Kindly Now isn’t without some interesting musical twists like the upbeat, percussive “Holy Lover” that hints at potential not fully explored in Henson’s songwriting just yet. We’ll get there. Henson doesn’t have to fear anyone forgetting him anytime soon as he makes music this good.