‘A lyrical canvas that illuminates every season’
Jack Lloyd
12:46 30th September 2019

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Dermot Kennedy has a debut album out which to most will feel like a long time coming. Following Kennedy’s work has been beautiful but albeit a little frustrating. Since the release of ‘After Rain’ (the fresh-faced blue sweater wearing Kennedy cover version) fans have experienced the Doves & Ravens EP, the mixtape with super producer Mike Dean, ‘Moments Passed’, ‘Power Over Me’ and the self-titled album-but-not-really released earlier this year. 

So, with all that under his belt along with selling out a world tour and amassing over 30 million streams and 10 million views on YouTube, is the long awaited widely anticipated debut album Without Fear worth the wait? Quite frankly, yes.   

Opening with ‘An Evening I Will Not Forget’ the pace has been set and avid ears will notice the automated echoes, the twitch-driven beats, those final flourishes that really take the track to dizzying new heights. ‘All My Friends’ is a rallying call to arms, a nod to the nostalgic while firing out cannon sized drums. Filled with thieves and demons and lanterns in the snow, tear the pages from Kennedy’s notebook and you’ll find every lyric a form of fragmented poetry leaving listeners utterly mesmerised.  

With frequent radio play ‘Power Over Me’ proves to be one of Dermot’s most commercially accessible tracks, amassing global success and unsurprisingly solidifies its place on his debut while ‘What Have I Done’ treads lightly and doesn’t quite pack the emotional punch as its predecessors. Fragmented, bruised and bare, ‘Moments Passed’ is the guttural heart on sleeve, pain personified peak on Without Fear. Try and envisage the inherent pillars of love and loss crashing together and sparking fragments of fear and uncertainty, it would only be a fraction of the sonic scope achieved on the tracks production. A truly momentous effort. 

‘The Corner’ illustrates a chilly depiction of loneliness that cuts deep while ‘Dancing Under Red Skies’ is rousing and radiant that revels in the symphonic swelling rising like the beating heart of the albums core. With the piano at his fingertips, ‘Rome’ sits comfortably within the realms of Kennedy’s emotive repertoire and the cast iron chorus on ‘Outgrown’ will hook listeners hard and demand repeat listens. ‘Redemption’ is a bold move and charters new territory, allowing enough scope to potentially branch out into a more-pop sound and will undoubtedly garner a new following. 

Ultimately Without Fear is a bold and beautiful debut, a lyrical canvas that illuminates every season and combines the art of skilful song writing with compelling, novel-esque lyricism. It’s a tremendous debut that will linger long in the ears and hearts of listeners and worthy of the wait. 

Without Fear is released on 4 October 2019 via Riggins/Island.

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