As another Friday comes around, with it arrives a plethora of new music. Shining out of the case of new arrivals is ‘Without Fear’, the highly anticipated debut album by Irish Singer-Songwriter, Dermot Kennedy.
Whether you’ve heard of him or not, the 27-year-old has been shot into the spotlight this year, touring the world with a handful of tracks under his belt – including a sold-out gig at the Powerstation in Auckland this July. An impressive feat, given it was his first time on New Zealand soil and it was without the support of a debut album. Finally on October 4th, ‘Without Fear’ arrives as a curated and heartfelt body of work, showcasing the best of Dermot Kennedy as an artist.
Upon first impressions, it’s difficult not to be impressed by the calibre of Kennedy’s voice, ranging from a soft, almost spoken word style, to the ballad-belting showcased on hit single ‘Power Over Me’ (which is sitting at over 110 million Spotify streams). It’s a skill that Kennedy says was refined in years of busking on Dublin’s Grafton St. At times subdued and raspy and at others straight colossal, the power of his voice adds to the integrity of his lyrics.
If his voice is what draws listeners in, it’s the honesty with which he recounts his memories and personal conversations that will make them stay. Whether painting vivid landscapes of his hometown Ireland or recalling his most precious memories, his vulnerability is nothing less than endearing on every track. Speaking on this, he shared that honesty was the only option for him. “I’m very comfortable doing it, it’s always been my outlet and it’s always been a nice way for me to get rid of whatever I’m feeling. But there’s been maybe one or two moments where I’ve thought ‘Should I say that thing’ and then I always do… because you should… If you look back at great artists, like Hemingway and all that, they just did it, and let it consume them, and said the thing.”
‘Without Fear’ honours his long journey to get where he is today, by including songs both old and new to create the story he wants to share with the world. Kennedy shared, “There’s one song on it from when I was 18, which is almost ten years ago; and there’s a song on it from a few months ago. So it’s this thing that’s been developed over that space of time, and I’m really proud and pleased at the fact that those two songs can live alongside each other on the same project”.
‘Without Fear’ debuts with one of the first songs he wrote and released, ‘An Evening I Will Not Forget’; a melancholy story about the breakdown of a relationship. The song has been modified for the album, with production that builds with a rising electronic beat. There are a handful of previously released tracks sprinkled through the 13 track album, including top chart singles ‘Power Over Me’ and his most recent ‘Outnumbered’. Paired with the new additions, the album tells a non-linear story; an honest outpour of songs that recount love lost like on ‘Rome’, or love found on ‘What Have I Done?”, while also taking a nostalgic dive into the past and sharing gratitude for life changing people and places on ‘All My Friends’.
‘Without Fear’ shows the world that Dermot Kennedy is an artist worthy of the hype, and assures that he is a musical force to be reckoned with.