Tag: Spotify

It’s Album Time: Dermot Kennedy’s self-titled debut album reviewed.

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Dermot Kennedy – Dermot Kennedy

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Dermot Kennedy is a twenty five year old singer-songwriter who honed his craft busking on the streets of Dublin. He he has over three hundred million streams on Spotify. I’d never heard of him before listening to this album, which is largely a gathering together of the singles he has released over the past few years.

But those singles have received considerable backing from big beasts of the music industry. Power Over Me debuted on Annie Mac’s Radio One Show in the prestigious Hottest Record in the World slot. Moments Passed premiered on Zane Lowe’s Beats One show.

His self-titled debut album was released on January 4th, and its an unusual record. There’s a lot of sadness and loss tinged throughout the record, with love and spiritual imagery featuring regularly as well. That being said, the album never really feels like a collection of songs that belong together. There’s nothing that binds together the various songs and both the tempo and ‘vibe’ of the album oscillates wildly.

The most notable asset on this album is Kennedy’s voice. Hovering somewhere between David Gray and Marcus Mumford, it is full of power and emotional heft and when it is used correctly gives an impressive rawness to the songs. Unfortunately, it is very rarely used correctly.

From the outset, the production on this album drowns any emotional heft the demos had. Album opener Power Over Me is a love song that feels insincere due to overproduction, with its big backing vocals and mass-appeal stabilisers.

Moments Passed has some heartbreaking lyrics (She said, “Oh, I know that love is all about the wind, How it can hold me up and kill me in the end”, Still I loved it, Does that mean nothing to you now?) but is renderer oddly soulless and pedestrian through the whirring, unnecessary noise.

The entire album continues in a similar manner. On almost every track I found myself writing negative comments about over-production, or emotions being diluted. I found myself wishing I could hear the acoustic versions of the tracks, to try and connect with Kennedy’s initial intentions. It’s no coincidence that the first three minutes of – the acoustic – An evening I will not forget feels like the most honest and straightforward on the record, until the unnecessary strings join the party.

Sadly this album has few redeeming features. Overly baggy (it’s drags quite badly towards the end), drowning in production to the point of soullessness and feeling relatively insincere, I hope Mr Kennedy is able to go back to basics in his future work.

4/10

Ramblings on Chaka Khan, new headphones and Peter Frampton

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Well the blog is back up and running after our first track of the day of 2019 was posted last night. I spent some time on Sunday trawling Spotify for music released in 2019 (early January is understandably not the easiest time to find new music) and I was pleasantly surprised to find Chaka Khan’s new track. I seem to recall she had a pretty bad time after Prince died, with a stint in rehab involved, and I thought she’d stopped recording music until I heard last year’s Like Sugar. On the back of these two solid tracks I’m looking forward to her forthcoming album.

Over the weekend I was given my final Christmas present, a pair of swanky Sennheiser Bluetooth headphones. I usually spend the Christmas period listening to random music from the 60s and 70s but didn’t get the chance this year as we were away. But I’ve been enjoying blasting out Joni Mitchell, Pink Floyd, Roxy Music (I listened to Jealous Guy earlier today and had completely forgotten how brilliant that track is) and many others to give the new headphones a whirl, and I’m fast falling in love with them.

Speaking of music from the 60s, over the weekend my dad was playing me some tracks his covers band are currently rehearsing. On Saturday he played me Peter Frampton’s version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. I love the original – which I had no idea until about an hour ago featured Eric Clapton – and I really like the Frampton version as well, which was recorded as a tribute to his friend George Harrison. If you haven’t heard it before, it’s well worth a listen.

I’ll be back with another Track of the Day later, but in the meantime here’s a bit more Chaka Khan to kick start your day.

Ramblings: On Allan Rayman, R’n’B and what’s coming up

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Regular readers of the blog will know that one of the artists we’ve been most excited about in 2017 is Allan Rayman.

I discovered him slightly by accident. My Spotify Release Radar playlist told me that Jessie Reyez had a new song out (Repeat); but I was immediately blown away by the male voice on the track and wanted to know more. It was, of course, Allan Rayman.

He’s a man who I previously described as an international man of mystery. When I first googled him, the top hit was about how mysterious he was, how he didn’t give interviews or appear in videos or chat to the audience at gigs. He released 13, a stunningly good single that’s still in the A List after four weeks, and his album Roadhouse 01 came out recently.

As part of the promotion for the album he has given his first interview to Billboard, which you can read here. It’s a great read, and helps to get you a little closer to understanding his artistic vision. But – again – there’s enough distance, enough things unsaid, that leave a hefty layer of intrigue around him.

Last week I went to see him live (with Gig-Buddy Matt) at the St Pancras Old Church. In the pub beforehand I said I was looking forward to finding out if I knew more about Allan Rayman at the end of the evening, or if he remained an unsolvable problem.

The most important thing to say is that it was a stunning gig. He possesses one of the most impressive voices I’ve come across in a very long time; its unique in its range, power and style. I’d go as far as to say the recordings don’t actually do it justice.

The second observation is that he sits across a range of musical styles and genres in a very exciting way. Combining hip hop beats, guitar parts that could belong in prog, rock, funk or electro pop tracks, vocals that range between pure power and an R ‘n’ B style shimmer. Even within the same song, he can display a range that’s bafflingly good.

My final comment is that I’m not sure I do know anything more about Allan Rayman the man behind the music. He stood in a small church in North London, illuminated by red lights, and seemed to let his satanic demons take over – especially on the newer songs (for which he’s adopted a darker alter-ego). But, even though he spoke to the audience a lot more than I was expecting, he didn’t necessarily say anything that gives us any greater insight (perhaps my favourite between-song comment was: ‘I’m not much of a talker’).

But I am more than a little bit in love. With his art, with his voice, with his style. Every now and then an artist comes along who leaves you hooked; simply wanting to know more. Allan Rayman is the latest addition to that very special list.

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Onto different matters now, and we’ve got a big week lined up on the Blog. Later today The Bonus List is coming up, and tomorrow morning the This Week Playlist will be live. I’m also hoping to get around to updating the Dream Festival, which is proving to be trickier than I thought.

Tam went to see White Lies at the Troxy last night, so I’m looking forward to reading his review of that. Similarly George is positively bursting at the seems with new albums to review, so expect one or two of those to drop this week.

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Finally, speaking of George, if you didn’t see his monthly column on Saturday Word On The Street, I highly recommend you give it a read. Covering a mind-blowing number of genres with his passionate style, he brings you up to date on everything in the world of ‘urban’ – a term both he and I hate – music for February. It’s fab. Go read it.