sat 22/06/2024

Album: Dermot Kennedy - Sonder | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Dermot Kennedy - Sonder

Album: Dermot Kennedy - Sonder

The singer sticks to the plan on his second album of crowd-pleasing, high-polish pop

Not even a worldwide health epidemic could stop the meteoric rise of the Irish singer, who has managed to crack America, achieve national treasure status in his homeland and rack up streaming figures that could actually pay his winter gas bill. Not bad going.

He’s managed it by being a broad strokes performer with film-star good looks and big, big voice – colossal emotion with a rough-edged burr. His appeal is deep and wide, capturing the hearts and imaginations with simple songs that render universal emotions in popular, comfortable colour schemes and Sonder, his second album, does little to change any of that. In many respects, it feels like “Operation: Don’t Fuck This Up”. But while not much has changed, it does feel like a trick has been missed.

We get high-sheen, high-definition gloss, and pacy, polished pop pumpers. We get sparse accompaniments hiding in the wings giving Kennedy’s voice the spotlight and space to fire up the feels. And when it’s time to change things up, we get thumping momentum to carry us along. But none of it screams raw emotion. None of it really screams at all.

It’s music almost completely devoid of edge, almost impressively so, and, when you take a closer  look at the lyrics, it becomes clear that the skill is transferrable.

“We never miss the flowers til the sun’s down/You never count the hours until they’re running out” Kennedy sings on “Better Days.” It’s one of Sonder’s many references to being short of time, and one wonders whether that’s telling in its own way. Kennedy certainly has a gift for craft. The rhythm of his words, the phrasing, the way they inhabit the space, that’s all spot on, but his lyrics are peppered with clichés and tired homilies. It all seems very rushed – like he’s filling gaps with one eye on the clock.

But then, it's exactly this shiny, catch-all, inspirational meme utility that will see Sonder stream in its billions and soundtrack big-blub montages on terrestrial TV shows everywhere. So in that respect, it does exactly what you’d expect. I just can’t help wishing it did something else.


Sonder will stream in its billions and soundtrack big-blub montages on terrestrial TV shows everywhere


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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