Damien Dempsey

Seize the Day

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Under the direction of veteran producer John Reynolds (Sinéad O'Connor, Jah Wobble), Dubliner Damien Dempsey pieced together his second full-length, Seize the Day. In Reynolds, Dempsey found an ally, one willing to line up a couple of heavy guests (O'Connor appears here as does Brian Eno) and create a stunningly fastidious sonic space wonderfully suited to Dempsey's strong and clean vocal delivery, but while the sound is admirable, there are a couple of moments on Seize the Day that conceptually falter. The first example comes out of the gate early in the album with the opening track, "Negative Vibes." Although it seems clear Dempsey and Reynolds had a particular vision for "Negative Vibes," the end result sounds confused, as if the pair couldn't quite reconcile a smooth transition from simple, unadorned, lightly strummed folky verses to the dub reggae of the prechoruses to the pastoral, sweeping strings that anchor the choruses. This is not to say that surprising turns aren't appreciated, but having "Negative Vibes" open the record fails to deliver the message of what kind of album Seize the Day is supposed to be. Even with the clumsy start, Dempsey recovers immediately with the gorgeous "Ghosts of Overdoses," a song beautifully rendered with strings and accordion, and many other songs on Seize the Day deliver successfully, such as "Industrial School" and the heavily treated "Jar Song," where Dempsey name checks fellow Irishmen Shane MacGowan and author/playwright Brendan Behan with a gracious nod. Overall Seize the Day is a fruitful venture with occasional pitfalls, but a recording worth working through to find the great moments.

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