Keaton Henson live debut and ‘Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us’ EP (November 5)

Keaton Henson will release his extraordinary ‘Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us’ EP on November 5 – the first taster from his second album (due for release in February 2013). This follows Keaton’s critically acclaimed debut ‘Dear…’, which was Rough Trade Album of the Month in April, iTunes’ One To Watch for 2012 and led to support across Radio 1, XFM, 6music and Radio 2.

Despite ongoing issues with stage-fright, Keaton recently put his two debut live shows on sale at Kennington’s Cinema Museum (October 3 and 4). These sold out – unannounced – in an hour and seven minutes respectively.

Keaton’s debut album, ‘Dear…’, showed how lovelorn sounds can mix powerfully with rawness and rough emotion. Its follow-up, beginning with the ‘Sweetheart…’ EP, goes even further.For an artist who has earned comparisons with Elliott Smith and Jeff Buckley, ‘Kronos’ is a dramatic and thrilling shift in gear: heavier, tumultuous, yet held together by Keaton’s trademark delicate delivery and lyrical honesty. Drawing apparent inspiration from the track’s namesake – the brutal leader of the Titans in Greek Mythology – ‘Kronos’ signals a newfound toughness in Keaton (“are you gonna let me take your soul? Oh my god you really are / I’m gonna eat you whole”). This is set off beautifully by ‘Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us’, which finds Henson in a more melancholic place than ever – mourning and then railing against the loss of newfound love, to a surge of horns and timpani drums. He may be delicate, but this is no wallflower: Keaton’s songs are as brutal as they are beautiful.

The ‘Sweetheart…’ EP sees Keaton Henson removed from his comfort zone, both in tone, texture and also his hometown. With an album’s worth of new songs ready to go, Keaton was offered the chance to work with a fan of his, American producer Joe Chiccarelli (The White Stripes, The Shins, The Strokes). Keaton was terrified – not just by working with a producer: he hadn’t flown in seven years – but also felt he had to do this. At twenty-four years old, this reclusive songwriter, artist and poet has never toured, appeared in a video, posted on social networks, and rarely leaves his hometown or his bedroom. Leaving the solitary boy’s leafy suburbs, Keaton Henson went to Hollywood.

It was whilst decamped to L.A. that Keaton met by chance (and eventually recorded with) several guests across the album. Renting an apartment for two months, he recreated his bedroom’s isolation…but allowed others into the fray this time. As such, the album features guest turns from members across Band of Horses, The Raveonettes, Alberta Cross and even a one-time member of Pearl Jam – some of whom are on particularly noisy form across ‘Kronos’, which was recorded live in one room. For Keaton, who has harboured a quiet love for hardcore music since he was a teenager, this was the opportunity of a lifetime. Yet even in the famous Hollywood sunshine, he didn’t once take off his suit.

Slowly but surely, Keaton Henson may just be stepping out of the shadows – not that he will ever be the kind of artist to bathe in the light. Yet his music gets to the heart of us; and on this forthcoming album, we start to get to the heart of him.

October 3 London Cinema Museum (sold out)

October 4 London Cinema Museum (sold out)

Praise for Keaton’s debut album, ‘Dear’

“One of the most compelling singer-songwriters we’ve heard in ages…‘Remarkable” Sunday Times

“Beautiful and uncompromising” Q ****

“Startling…it feels like trespassing” Observer ****

“Accomplished artist, poised songwriter, heartbroken recluse…spine-tinglingly poignant” Time Out

“His music is magical…a deeply affecting listen” Line Of Best Fit

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