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Review | “intimacy within the grandeur” Dermot Kennedy – Without Fear

The Last Mixed Tape reviews Without Fear, the debut studio album from Dermot Kennedy.

Dermot Kennedy’s Without Fear is the kind of album where everything seems to have a sense of weight to it. Whether in the emotionally wrought vocals, the deep textural production or the longing lyrics that underpin the record, Kennedy’s debut has a depth of field to it that adds another layer to the pop sensibilities that lie at the heart of it and portray an intimacy within the grandeur.

Opening with the subdued piano ballad that gradually evolves and introduces the soundscape of the record as a whole, ‘An Evening I Will Not Forget’ finds Kennedy wearing his heart on his sleeve from the outset with a track that is as evocative and raw sonically as it lyrically. This openness is intrinsically linked to emotional impact of Without Fear as the album makes use of Dermot Kennedy’s dynamic performance and vivid beats to convey the meaning.

Indeed, Without Fear has a defined over-arching atmosphere for Kennedy’s songwriting to live within, allowing it to move from the turbulent and uplifting choruses of ‘Power Over Me’, the isolated beats and augment sounds of ‘Moments Passed’, and the textural repose of ‘Dancing Under Red Skies’ in sure-footed emotive gestures that work within the prism of what Kennedy wants to portray as a songwriter from song to song.

But it is ‘Outnumbered’ that provides the high-water mark of Without Fear and towers over proceedings as a track that merges everything that came before as both Kennedy and the production meld together in large-scale choruses that are made for anthemic sing-a-long moments as the record reaches it zenith in a song that meets the ambition.

Without Fear is an interesting title. Alluding to the fearlessness of Kennedy’s lyrics and the need to be so when it comes to love itself. Over the course of thirteen tracks, Dermot Kennedy convey’s the longing, ecstasy and hurt that can be all too relatable and communicates them in a way that resonates from a real and honest place. Couple this with a songwriting that finds the right meter between alt-pop and indie-folk, and you have a debut that hits the mark.

Rating: 8/10

Without Fear by Dermot Kennedy is out now.

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