Album Review: Keaton Henson - Monument

Mark Narayn-Lee reviews the latest effort from Keaton Heaton

Mark Narayn-Lee
27th October 2020
Keaton Henson has found fiscal comfort in the forlorn, fragile, façade which is his form. Monument is full of folkish melodies, mixed and manipulated through the motions of its mastering; thus, guaranteeing a popular record amongst Henson’s avid followers.

The similarity between this album and his previous releases cannot be denied. Tracks entwined with lo-fi home recordings chronologizes Henson’s childhood, providing a tenuous link across the LP.

Indeed, the album cover reflects the nature of the artist. Sad ceramics cement his sufficiency at a craft that Henson has meticulously situated himself in throughout his brief but bountiful career. The songs featured are somewhat forgetful amongst the considerable ocean of Henson’s discography. Despite this, the most standout tracks are the ones that appear unique to Monument. Henson is at his most rocking and rolling, on tracks such as ‘While I Can’ and ‘Husk’, where emotion is channelled into catharsis, creating a welcome change. Whilst conventional, the inclusion of drums is refreshing in an otherwise unidimensional listen. Upping the tempo liberates the listener from the languid, morbid emotion of Henson’s brittle vocals.

Sad ceramics cement his sufficiency at a craft that Henson has meticulously situated himself in throughout his brief but bountiful career.

The literary themes across Monument are familiar territory for the singer-songwriter. Anguish and agony are on the agenda, Henson seemingly finding a sonic absolutism within his subjective anxiety. Redemption is achieved through artistic production. Nature’s transcendental quality, on ‘Ontario’, nurtures Henson’s artistry in a practice to tap into the noumenal traits of the phenomenal world.

Despite these brief moments of clarity, the clutches of contemporary culture corrode Henson’s attempt to achieve liberty. Depressants and death feature across the board, demonstrating the daunting task of introspective reflection as well as achieving communion with the listener. With the intention of laying oneself bare, “…there is also acceptance of life and its ability to continue moving whether you want it to or not”. Henson’s world is one of ideas, constantly changing, where the end is unknowable, let alone unachievable. Nevertheless, the unity of this piece, demonstrates a, “relentless transformation through pain”, whereby an embrace of the melancholy provides some comfort to the listener as well as the artist. 

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