Romantic Works is the recent, unexpected release from 26 year old artist Keaton Henson. This sudden release is a collaboration with cellist Ren Ford and is a collection of nine remarkably composed instrumentals that shine a new light on Keaton Henson: Romantic Works is the first unobstructed encounter with Keaton Henson – The composer.
Over the past few years, Henson has grown as a respected artist and has unsurprisingly become recognised for the high levels of passion and quite often despair immersed in his music. Despite the seemingly sorrowful nature of his music, the thought of a new release is an unashamedly pleasant feeling which is only heightened by the discovery in the amusingly titled Elevator Song that Keaton Henson has dived head first into the secluded modern classical genre.
This untapped contemporary classical shift might be something we here at TFFT and music lovers would want to give an ear to. Musically, Romantic Works is only slightly drifting away from Henson’s Dear and Birthdays. In 2010, Dear gained a cult following drawn in by the innocence found in the bedroom recordings of harrowing tales of heart break and lost love.
As an entirely instrumental record, followers (myself included) of Henson’s work can be forgiven for their naivety in thinking that Romantic Works would lack the poetry ingrained in his lyrical works. But fear not, it forms an instant connection with the listener right from the get go; we’re pulled into a serene atmosphere with varying heights and depths which seems to end too soon. This is not to say that it is the sort of atmospheric music that acts as a backdrop to dinner parties, as with all of Henson’s work, there’s something deeply personal found in each track.
The instant success of this experimental release should not overshadow the presence of Ren Ford on this record. An established artist in his own right, Ford and Henson’s collaboration isn’t new but is what makes this record truly beautiful. Romantic Works brings out a new found respect for Keaton Henson and his passionate nurturing of his talent. I can’t help but feel that with every project we’re given deeper insight into what many have described as Henson’s distant soul.