East Burn Road
Young alt-folk singer-songwriter hailing from the foothills of the Wicklow mountains.
Dermot Kennedy’s rip-roaring, free-flowing folk-pop grew out of years singing over rowdy crowds at local bars and open mics and in the streets of Dublin. Born in 1991, the singer/songwriter was raised in the small Irish village of Rathcoole, where he began writing songs as a teenager before studying classical music at Maynooth University and forming folk band Shadows and Dust. He soon set off on his own, busking on Dublin’s Grafton Street, the same spot favored by famous street musicians like Glen Hansard, The Frames frontman and Once actor. Kennedy built up his raspy, throat-ripping howls on the pavement, but found his largest following online after he self-released romantic ballads like 2015’s “An Evening I Will Not Forget” and 2016’s “After Rain.” A larger audience exposed him to a few key producers, including Stephen Kozmeniuk (Koz) and Mike Dean, both of whom have helped enhance the poetic intimacy of Kennedy’s songwriting with rumbling beats and expansive electronic production. Finding a delicate balance between soaring folk and understated hip-hop has been the key to Kennedy’s sound, starting with his 2019 debut album, Without Fear. His strengths come in turning quiet melodies into rousing anthems, including “Power Over Me,” a propulsive paean that captures the intoxicating rush of becoming enraptured, and “Outnumbered,” which feels almost gospel-like in its cathartic chorus. Meanwhile, his voice—a slightly weathered mix of grit and gravel—ties it all together, bringing the raw intensity he learned as a busker to pop charts around the world.
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