While on my way to Indiependence Music & Arts Festival back in 2016, it was suggested to me that I make it my business to get to the set of the young Dublin singer/songwriter, Dermot Kennedy. From that point on I found myself paying more attention to the career of the Dublin man.
The first song that I properly listened to by the performer was the magnificent An Evening I Will Not Forget. A track that almost feels like a spoken word poetry performance set to music, it investigates everything that makes up unforgettable moments with someone you love perfectly, from the little things that make memories perfect to the sense of nostalgia that will forever accompany these moments. The honesty of the lyrics, the rawness of the vocals, and the perfect instrumental accompaniment made this song resonate with me immediately.
Kennedy started writing music when he was 15 years old and there is a definite sense that he knows exactly what he is trying to do with the music he makes. But that is not to say that there is anything straightforward or predictable about the music of Kennedy. There is as much to suggest a hip-hop influence to his songs as there is the traditional folky singer/songwriter influence.
The stand out song by the Dublin man for me is the September 2017 release, Moments Passed.
Moments Passed is exactly what the title suggests, an exploration of an event or an idea that has been consigned to the past, but it doesn’t seem to be a memory that Kennedy is particularly fond about remembering.
This is a song that I found that I could relate with especially deeply at the time of hearing. The song opens with Kennedy singing a short refrain about a girl that he had romantic feelings for but he could not bring himself to articulate for a long time.
“Knew for a long time for all it’s worth, I wanted to run to you…”
Lyrics like this immediately connect with listeners because we have all been in a situation where we have wanted to tell someone that we like them but can not do it for fear of rejection. This sense of dread at this disappointment is one of the biggest deterrents for people as they begin to develop feelings for another human being – something that has routinely affected me through the years, and especially at the time of this songs release. Again, these fears are addressed by Kennedy later in the song in a way that perfectly captures the self doubt that eats at all of us when confronted with someone we care about.
“I found a moment to be brave so I let her know, and she said how could I love you back you dropped your dreams in the gutter.”
A powerful and affecting statement about how cruel this process can be, and why so many of us are paralysed rather than incentivized by strong romantic feelings.
Sonically, this song was another departure by the Dubliner, with the looped deep vocals at the beginning and end of the track immediately setting an atmosphere of weight and severity that Kennedy continues with the lyrics that come after. The continuous acoustic guitar riff through the song and the incredible drum beat at the core add to an interesting and enthralling sonic landscape being created seemingly effortlessly.
“I loved you, does that mean nothing to you now?”
Across the song, Kennedy laments the frivolous nature of love and having feelings for other people, and how it seems that people can often not understand just how important something is to someone else. A sentiment that is all too familiar to anyone who has been broken up with by someone who they felt could have been the real deal. Despite the obvious pain that is clearly in every lyric from Kennedy on this song, he ends it in what I think is a mildly positive way. The end of the relationship clearly still hurts him but he is still able to be sympathetic of the position of the girl in question.
“Wasn’t easy to go I know…”
Moments Passed is the anthem for anyone who has ever found themselves reminiscing over a relationship that is no longer. It is a song that carries the listener from the initial magic of forming that connection with that special someone through to that stage where you are trying to make sense of what has happened.
When she kissed me I felt a new freedom or something… Move on.