Singer-songwriter, Dermot Kennedy has been on the rise since his breakout track After Rain in 2016. Even before the release of his debut album, he gained traction from his compelling live performances at his sell-out gigs. Set to play Stateside at this year’s Coachella and featuring on BBC’s Sound of 2019 Longlist, we can expect to hear more of the upcoming artist.
However, his self-titled album falls into the same pit that much pop-influenced folk music fails to avoid – catchy yet predictable. Although the wistful, gravelly quality of his voice and the blend of guitar and stripped back piano instrumentals with hip-hop and R&B-influenced percussion initially adds intrigue to the album, it struggles to stand out in an already bloated genre, as the tracks tend to merge into the same formulaic sound. While Kennedy likens his music to that of his influences such as James Vincent McMorrow and Bon Iver, his primarily ballad-based sound which underpins the album doesn’t quite strike their adventurous originality or emotional arresting qualities, falling under the regrettably forgettable category.
Although the album may not necessarily push against the norm of its genre resulting in some songs sounding quite like other woodsy-folk/pop radio hits, his vocal ability is undeniably impressive and leaves listeners excited for his upcoming live performances where he excels.
Photo credit: Lucy Foster