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Review: 'Dempsey, Damien'

-  Album: 'Soulsun' -  Label: 'Clear Records'
-  Genre: 'Folk' -  Release Date: '26th May 2017'

Our Rating:
On paper, Damien Dempsey probably looks like any other singer-songwriter, and a fortunate one at that, having received the backing of Sinead O’Connor around the time of his debut album at the beginning of the millennium. But then, his 2000 debut album was called ‘They Don’t Teach This Shit in School’, which hardly says mainstream. It’s perhaps because of his adherence to his own principles that Dempsey has won so much respect from some renowned artists including Brian Eno and Morrissey.

‘Soulsun’ opens with the title track, an arena-filling, life-affirming mid-tempo anthem that I should by rights detest. But it’s so well executed and so full of life, of depth, of – dare I say it, soul – that its energy in infectious and very hard to resist but what makes it all the more appealing is that Dempsey immediately steps down into altogether darker, reflective narrative territory.

There’s a risk that Dempsey’s work on this outing will be eclipsed by the roll-call of female guest vocalists featured on the album, referred to in the sleeve notes as ‘the mighty Celtic Warrior High Queens’. ‘Beside the Sea’ sees Damien joined by Dido, and fellow Dubliner, Imelda May, appears on ‘Big Big Love’, which is pitched as ‘an anthemic mid-tempo rock love song, showing a bolder, more contemporary sound. And then there’s ‘Pretty Bird Tree’, which features Dingle singer Pauline Scanlon, a regular collaborator over the years.

But Dempsey is a musician and performer with a strong character which shines through. He’s also got a knack for bold choruses and smart hooks. It all makes for a strong, tuneful and accessible album that’s got mass appeal, but without a hint of Simon Cowelliness.

Damien Dempsey Online

  author: Christopher Nosnibor

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Dempsey, Damien - Soulsun