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2023 Albums Thing 108 - Damien Dempsey “Soulsun”

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Everyone’s allowed an off day right ? C’mon I even managed to forgive Bowie for Tin Machine !

Here I was in my last post gushing about how important Damo and his music are to me and now I have to admit I don’t think I’ve played this album more than five times since it was released in 2017. Since “Seize The Day” Damo had released a breathtaking run of albums in “Shots”, “To Hell Or Barbados” and “Almighty Love”. Between those there was “Live At The Olympia”, “The Rocky Road” a run through some of his favourite traditional Irish songs and “No Force On Earth” a collection of original songs and traditional arrangements to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.

“Soulsun” starts well, the title track is quintessential Damo and a great song. It all goes downhill from there. Track 2 is a cover version of a pretty poor song, then there’s a duet with Imelda May on “Big Big Love”, a song which suits Imelda but not Damo, even if he did write it, just give it to her and collect the royalties. There’s yet another (the third) re-recording of “Beside The Sea”, this one a duet with Dido (!), great song but did it really need recording again ? “Sam Jenkins” sounds like a leftover/outtake from “No Force On Earth” and then some other pretty lacklustre new songs. It all feels a bit half hearted.

I’m aware that I am in the minority in this opinion as, on release, some reviews claimed this to be one of Damo's  best records to date (not even close) but we all listen with different ears, right ? Listening to it again now after probably a couple of years I wouldn’t say I’m warming to it but I’m certainly less icy. Damo made a wonderful series of records leading up to this one and keeping up that level of quality would be tough for anyone. The album that followed this was a collection of duets on some of Damo’s older songs (see Dido earlier) and he hasn’t made a record of new material since “Soulsun” which was released 6 years ago now. If we’ve had the best of Damo it was a helluva ride brother, but I hope not.

Soulsun - https://youtu.be/4dUXnf_uumI

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