by EJ Coleman
It may be a little presumptuous to make a greatest hits playlist for an artist still making art, but that’s not to say they’ll never do anything of merit again (knock on wood). This list is more of a primer, an introduction to and highlight reel of the art so far.
Keaton Henson is an English singer-songwriter, artist, and poet. On the surface, he’s a stereotypical tortured artist; he writes poetry, has anxiety, rarely plays concerts, smokes, and writes songs about heartbreak. But deeper, and perhaps more important than that, is how earnest and sincere his music is. I mean, just watch his NPR Tiny Desk Concert; his concentration on the music, how protectively he is hunched over his guitar as if to protect the sound from everything else. You could listen to any of these songs eight hundred times and still be moved by the lyrics or the instrumentation or even the quavering sound of his voice. Henson’s music is gentle and pleading, like a busker you heard once from across the street and walked past but can now never forget.
It would be hard to make a true “Greatest Hits” list, one based on how high a song reached on the charts or how popular it was, solely due to the fact that none of his songs have ever actually charted. Besides that, there are the most quintessential songs; the ones that, were you to guess, you would know are him immediately just by the feeling of it. There are only two things a true Keaton Henson song needs: sad lyrics about love and an electric guitar. It seems like an easy formula to follow, and has been many times, to much success, but not as often with the earnesty Henson has. Without that limitation, here are what I personally see as the best Keaton Henson songs to date.
- You – Birthdays (2013)
- Party Song – Dear… (2010)
- La Naissance – Romantic Material (2014)
- You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are – The Lucky EP (2012)
- Helalah Dancing – Romantic Works (2014)
- Flesh and Bone – Dear… (2010)
- In the Morning – Birthdays (2013)
- Small Hands – Dear… (2010)
- Sweetheart, What Have You Done to Us? – Birthdays (2013)
- Sand – Romantic Material (2014)
- Sarah Minor – Dear… (2010)
- Milk Teeth – Birthdays (2013)
- Elevator Song – Romantic Works (2014)
- About Sophie – Dear… (2010) *only on SoundCloud