Dermot Kennedy is somewhat of an anomaly in the music industry. The Irish artist hasn’t even released an album yet but has over five million monthly listeners of Spotify, over 21 million streams of his most popular song “Power Over Me” and is touring in venues across the world. If there’s anyone the media should have their eyes on, it’s Kennedy.
Kennedy’s music is an earthy blend of Bon Iver, Hozier and Vance Joy’s more mellow hits. Piano and string-strum heavy, his songs often feature storylines of bittersweet love, devastating loss and nostalgic reflection at what could have been. He’s been pinned as a folk, alternative, indie-roots-rock artist, but even with this plethora of genres, I’d still argue he skirts along the edges of any classifications.
I found Kennedy a few months ago when Spotify recommended I add the track “An Evening I Will Not Forget” to one of my playlists. For context, the set already included “Someone to Stay” by Vancouver Sleep Clinic, “The Night We Met” by Lord Huron, “Soldier On” by The Temper Trap and “Wash.” by Bon Iver. “An Evening I Will Not Forget” got me hooked and for good reason. Like most of his other songs, it features heavy visuals and rhetoric like “I kept my hope just like I’d hoped to//Then sang to the sea for feelings deep blue” and “That’s no way to be living kid//The angel of death is ruthless.” What really drew me in was the peak of the song: “What’s important is this evening I will not forget//Purple, blue, orange, red.” You an almost feel Kennedy keeping it in for the entirety of this song until these lyrics burst outwards, flooding the scene with vibrant passion, anger, sadness and frustration.
His self-titled compilation “album” — featuring twelve tracks but classified as a single by Spotify — is filled with other amazing songs. “Moments Passed” was stuck in my head for an entire weekend, and I wasn’t mad about it at all. The number begins with cutting of indistinguishable low lyrics, juxtaposed immediately before Kennedy’s singing. The song departs a bit from the sound of his usual folk-alternative vibe, verging on a mix between soul and somewhat electronic. It’s the kind of song you could listen to while walking under street lights or waiting at a bus stop in between towns.
Other fan favorites include “For Island Fires and Family,” “A closeness,” “After Rain” and “Lost” while I favor “Young & Free,” “An Evening I Will Not Forget” and “Moments Passed.” All of Kennedy’s song are a force to be reckoned with, and if you’re looking for the industry’s next rising star, I’d put my bet on him.