Keaton Henson – Monument

‘Monument’ is about as raw as music can get.
Released: 23rd October 2020
Rating: ★★★

Keaton Henson is a difficult musician to talk about due to his complete distaste for self-promotion, but fortunately, his music once again speaks volumes more than a press junket ever could. While this record is only adding to an already expansive discography, Keaton seems to be striving to prove himself through honest, confident releases.

While 2016’s ‘Kindly Now’ set a precedent for further experimentation in production, ‘Monument’ is about as raw as music can get. With ‘Prayer’ in particular, a soul-wrenching goodbye to his recently passed father, Keaton moulds acoustic instruments along with his haunting vocal performance to craft a soundscape that is overwhelming and greatly absorbing, providing the perfect opportunity to wallow in the grief that he has been through.

There are certainly energetic moments too; standout ‘While I Can’ features a rich environment populated by horns, drums and guitars – this track and the most recent single, ‘Husk’, match the melancholic vibe with some faster-moving melodies. This is not saying much though, as the overarching tone is a very slow burn towards expressing loss, played out in songs like ‘The Grand Old Reason’ that reflect on the reality of death itself.

Unfortunately, the shining moments that tug at your heartstrings can be few and far between in long-winded verses with vague poetry attached. The songwriting backbone on which the album relies is inherently introspective, and certainly shows no rush to cater to any audience – this can occasionally lead to it feeling directionless.

Keaton Henson’s vulnerable, understated and occasionally pretentious style makes this LP a hard sell to mainstream audiences, but that same clearly strong-feeling performance, especially in terms of vocals, is what makes this art accessible and outstanding to those who are listening.

Finlay Holden

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