Dermot Kennedy lives without fear with new album release

Róisín Phelan

DDublin born Dermot Kennedy has already proven his music can transcend Ireland alone and make an impact on the global audience with the release of his debut album ‘Without Fear’ on October 5.

With tickets for his tour selling well in the US and Europe and an intimate UK album tour, Kennedy’s audience has grown tenfold in 2019. 

The opening number from the album, “An Evening I Will Not Forget”, is a classic for fans who have been around since his career took off.

Although the song was originally released in 2014, it has aged beautifully and is an excellent place to start for those looking to understand Kennedy’s musical and lyrical style. This song demands all of your attention from the very first chord with a striking stillness.

Overall there’s a continuous thread of Kennedy looking back on the past and looking forward in panic throughout “Without Fear”. Listeners get to hear how his past relationships and experiences have shaped him and how he understands life. 

Whether it be in fondness, sadness or angst, several songs feature a tone of nostalgia, such as “All my Friends” and “Rome”. 

Kennedy has said that “nothing quite scares me like the passing of time…that someday I will feel rain on my skin for the very last time, or the sun on my shoulders.”

“So I sometimes wonder if it would be easier not to love at all.”

In spite of this fear, Kennedy says he would rather live each moment to its fullest regardless of what the future holds, hence his debut albums title “Without Fear”.

This theme is particularly noticeable in a diamond of the album, “Rome”. Being one of the songs that the audience had not heard yet, “Rome” is romantic in its lyrics. It’s melodic, repetitive chords talks about wanting to return to a time when life was easier. Yet he knows that it’s more important to hold onto the good memories rather than looking back in sadness.

“Midnight drives when you’d sing, I’d play you songs you were in, I just want to be there again,” being one of the chorus lines that is sure to resonate with all the hopeless romantics out there. 

Singles “Power Over Me” and “Outnumbered” were released prior to the album and are recognisable standouts with their equally addictive lyrics. 

However, there are several new songs that are proving to be fantastic additions to “Without Fear”. For example, “The Corner” is carried by Kennedy’s signature R&B style beats and simple harmonies. 

The title and final song on the album, “Without Fear”, builds beautifully and incorporates orchestral instruments more and more as it progresses into a breaking point in both the music and in Kennedy’s voice as he sings, “And now I really think you’re heaven-sent, ’cause you’ve been forcin’ all these hollow hearts to feel again.”

The second last song, “Redemption”, is a breath of fresh air with a surprisingly upbeat tempo and inspiring sentiment of support, forgiveness and self belief.

Throughout the album, Kennedy continues to impress with powerful performances of his deeply personal songs. This album is one that should be listened to repeatedly in order to truly appreciate Kennedy’s talent and incredible storytelling songwriting ability.

On the day of the album release, Kennedy posted a message online expressing his pride and gratitude to his fans. 

“Every lyric, every gig, every flight, every late night studio session, every decision made. I don’t like when people make noise about themselves, but  I have worked so so hard to get to this point.”

Róisín Phelan 

Image Credit: Dermot Kennedy Album Cover