Trying to Make Art and Live Well

Music Review

Think, Glen Hansard, Bon Iver, Damien Rice and David Gray meets J. Cole: While this may seem like an absurd analogy it is one that Dermot Joseph Kennedy has taken in stride.  A New Folk, Alternative, Indie Roots Rock artist ,with poetic lyrical abilities. Kennedy defies the argument that there is a lack of emotion, authenticity and utter shallowness in much of today’s music.

Our human instincts tend to draw us to music that discusses the most relatable, but least understood aspects of ourselves. South of Dublin, Ireland lies the suburban village of Rathcoole, where no-name artists appear at pubs, in an attempt to hopefully catch a gig.  Kennedy followed these footsteps, along with busking in the streets of Ireland, delivering his powerful voice to an audience unwilling to stop and soak in what now could be the most genuine artist of the industry.  

Besides, the stunning deliverance of live performances, the jaw-dropping raspy voice along with the reassurance of his lyrics, that you are not alone in what you feel, his music has become a safe haven for one’s struggling to understand their own journey.

A head nod, hands intertwined together by his heart, eyes shut tight, dripping sweat, and heels lifted off of the ground from practically falling over with an abundance of passion; are just some of the unique moments in Dermot’s performance. 

“An Evening I will Not Forget” is a staple amongst the fanbase, and one of Kennedy’s earliest releases.  A 17 year old boy, falling into this roller coaster of love, as Kennedy portrays the stages of an entire relationship, throughout the lyrics and escalating melody of piano. We can hear the pain in Kennedy’s voice as his tone shifts from somber, to this burst of emotion, where the listener can only sit back, and absorb the feelings of the ups and downs in a teenage romance.

Not wanting to stray from what influenced him to begin playing the guitar at 11 years old and write songs at 14 years old, Kennedy has remarkably been able to maintain a balance of the acoustic, intimate sentiment with the addition of hip-hop for a larger production.  

According to an interview with BUILD on youtube, Kennedy says he never believes he’ll release strictly a rap song, although you may see him hover the line of crossing over to this genre as he doesn’t want to be something he is not.

We see this in his latest release, “Lost,” a song he has been holding on to for a while, perfecting the tune that conveys the message that life is so unpredictable, as there is a constant struggle between not knowing whether “something super beautiful is going to happen or something awful.”  The hip hop drum beats and imposing piano, is something Kennedy has hinted at in previous songs but never took into full effect.

Although, yet again, the beauty in this song doesn’t not lie within the musical composition but the impactful lyrics. Right before the intensity of the riveting chorus, lives a lyric that makes the audience reflect on the truth behind the comfort you seek in challenging times, “There can’t be songs for every soldier, it can’t be solace every time you cry.”

Kennedy’s tour has recently begun, as he makes his way through Canada and making his presence known at Coachella in California. 

After writing in Brooklyn for more than a month and continuing to bring these songs to life in the studio, Kennedy’s fans will have to continue listening to previous releases, constantly finding something to connect to in those lyrics, while waiting for his debut album in the summer.

– by Evthoxia Zamagias ’19