Keaton Henson

Dear

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There is little surprise that Keaton Henson had never intended his heartbreaking, bare-all acoustic stories to ever be shared beyond his bedroom. His achingly beautiful debut, Dear..., would have flown under the radar had it not been for the music blogs and word of mouth eventually reaching the ears of notable radio DJs in the U.K. The record was then re-released through Sony, and Henson's sparse, heart-wrenching songs found a willing audience to wallow in his tales of love lost. Heartbreak is a well-worn badge in music, but few can write about it as candidly as Henson does here, with all the self-deprecation and bitterness of a jilted lover evident, but set to a calming and lethargic soundtrack of plucked guitars, minimal synths, and the odd thud of a drum. The lightly strummed guitar and his fragile vocals were all self-recorded in a tiny bedroom in the outskirts of London, and the isolated, accidental nature of the record draws comparisons to the intimate character of Bon Iver's log cabin-recorded debut. The influence of Elliott Smith resonates throughout, and "Charon" seems as though it is just about to lead into Smith's "Angeles," before Henson's light whisper takes control and redirects the melody. The candid tales Henson constructs do feel like an intrusion on his privacy, and the fragile openness that he displays can initially be disarming. Yet the album flourishes when he is most vulnerable on "You Don't Know How Lucky You Are" and "Small Hands." His music goes some way to explain why Henson seldom gives interviews and generally keeps a low profile. The record provides a brief snapshot of his turmoil during one of the most dejected times in his life and is delivered in a beautiful, brutally honest way, conveying more in one song than an interview could ever uncover.

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