Damien Dempsey Seize the Day

It is said that there is rarely a dry eye in the house after a live performance by Dublin’s Damien Dempsey. The raw emotion that he puts into his songs makes it hard not to be moved by this 29-year old, but unfortunately that isn’t quite the case on his debut North American release, Seize the Day. Dempsey comes with an impressive list of fans — Seize the Day appears on Morrissey’s Attack imprint, while he is joined on the record by Sinead O’Connor and Brian Eno. And he doesn’t hold back on the emotion either with songs that document the struggle in Ireland against famine, politics and social injustice in general — no wonder he was named "Dubliner of the Decade” last year. The main problem is that while Dempsey is a relatively accomplished songwriter, he still makes some rookie mistakes. There are several songs that try unsuccessfully to mix folk and reggae, resulting in a jarring combination that makes a political statement but doesn’t sound particularly good. Worse still are some of his lyrics where he feels obliged to create rhyming couplets no matter how clumsy they might be. It is impossible to listen to Seize the Day and not be affected by its honesty, but this would be a much better album if he fully embraced the folk music of his homeland and sung his protest songs with a clear and true voice. (Sanctuary)