The Irish and songwriting – it’s one of those trope combos that, after generations and generations, seems to hold up every time. Dermot Kennedy is the latest Dublin-raised singer to take the world by storm, his debut album Without Fear cementing his spot at the top of the game.
The record is a culmination of a whirlwind year for the artist, having performed at some of the world’s largest festivals including Coachella, All Points East, Splendour In The Grass, and more. If one thing’s for sure, Kennedy won’t be slowing down in a hurry.
Dermot Kennedy aims higher than high on Without Fear, a selection of folk-pop instant classics which set him for soon-to-be greatness.
The album singles, including chart-throb hits Power Over Me and Outnumbered, actually sit quite nicely alongside the rest of Without Fear. Their earworm qualities are obvious yes, but they don’t stand out as the album’s only points of attention – a growing trend for records in the pop charts.
Singalong anthems such as Dancing Under Red Skies or title track and album closer Without Fear bear all the hallmarks of a massive folk-pop hit; big choruses, slick beats, and crescendos you’ll be feeling for weeks to come.
In fact, the fusing of folk tropes with contemporary pop or hip hop elements is central to this album. More and more the world is becoming used to hearing snappy kicks and flickering hi-hats underneath acoustic guitar lines, and often the result is more cringe-worthy than drool-worthy.
However something about Kennedy avoids this pitfall; his voice is a little edgier, the compositions slightly more cinematic, and the lyrics more considered than his contemporaries.
Without Fear is a profound release that straddles the highs of pop stardom with enough stylistic integrity to appeal to a critical audience. Dermot Kennedy’s position as a future star is already confirmed, but this debut record will solidify him far beyond the initial rush of fame.
Without Fear is out now.