Album Round-Up: Keaton Henson, Sally Shapiro, Trixie Whitley

Who doesn’t love a good birthday? Presents, cake, maybe even the occasional stripper popping out of said cake. None of these are images conjured up by London singer-songwriter Keaton Henson, who has returned for a second album that could well be his Bon Iver. Album opener Teach Me sets the bar, in which that aching voice swoons over barely-there guitar – each song is an exercise in fragility, something Henson admits himself in 10am, Gare du Nord. Go for it.

Next we come to Swedish Italo-disco duo Sally Shapiro, who dazzled with first outings (I’ll Be By Your Side and Miracle are still top notch). Of course, that whole unwitting cool has fallen by the wayside when you begin titling your songs ‘The City’s Local Italo Disco DJ Has A Crush on Me’ (no, really). We wanted to like this album, we really did, but it’s just too inconsistent, too clinical. This could have flown in 2009, but not so much now – it says a lot when a song featuring Electric Youth is the best on your album. 

And finally we get on to Belgium-born Trixie Whitley, who despite sounding like a pound-shop Bond girl, has actually churned out a devastatingly wonderful – and at times ever-so-dark – album. There’s a husky, soulful voice that sounds way above her 25 years, not to mention a depth to the lyricism one wouldn’t normally find in a debut album. As Morelia and Oh, the Joy will testify, this is the most promising and robust thing to come out of Belgium since Jean Claude Van Damme.