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Damien Dempsey

Walk around Damien Dempsey’s patch of Dublin’s northside and the places and people are like ancient dolmens round his lyrics. Turn a corner near his family home and there still are the “factories, trains and houses” he sang about on Shots, albeit quieter now, and more subdued.

Tradesmen walk around mid-morning with rolled up tabloid newspapers under their arms. A generation lies idle in a community struggling to re-establish its identity and sense of self.

For Dempsey, people and place are King. His voice is Dublin yet wholly distinctive, almost clichéd to say it, but he is part of a rich bloodline of Irish singers from Luke Kelly to Ronnie Drew, Christy Moore to Andy Irvine. Their kin outside Ireland are Springsteen and Guthrie, Dylan and Marley.

In Almighty Love, Dempsey’s sense of place reaches out beyond Donaghmede and North Bull Island, where he first performed in public as a teenager, across the Irish Sea and further afield.

The locale is still in the lyrics. It’s there in the hauntingly poetical Chris and Stevie, a tribute to male bonding and grief. You can hear it in Canadian Geese - large migratory birds whose flight path took them past Dempsey's boyhood window. It’s there also in the references to railway tracks and waves, visible from the rooftops of Dempsey’s childhood home. Those railway tracks took Dempsey and his boyhood friends out into their own imaginations and he hasn’t forgotten.

Almighty Love goes on a journey of a different kind. Dempsey, at 37 years old, has already said so much about self and state that trying to plough over old ground wouldn’t have been artistically challenging or fresh. So instead, he has given us an album of confidence and maturity, which has a more global sound to it and a broader scope. It is at once bigger and quieter, still rallying against injustice, yet with a more reflective and thoughtful tone, communicated more widely.

Some of the anger of earlier albums has been refocused. Now, he is singing for himself, attempting to put in context his experience as an Irishman who has seen something of the world and learned more about himself.

It’s not that Almighty Love is a radical departure. It’s more an evolution on previous themes and concepts. The anthems are still there: Busting Outta Here, The Good and the Great, Community and Almighty Love.  

His generosity of spirit, affiliation with those in need and the downtrodden, and recognition of their suffering, remains. It prevails even when that preoccupation may shine a spotlight on aspects of modern society that are uncomfortable to face. Dempsey faces them, and himself, and us. Toe-to-toe.

So how do you describe Damien Dempsey’s music to someone who hasn’t yet been exposed to it? Take some reggae, fuse it with traditional Irish music, add in rock and folk and put it all through a grounded working class worldly aware yet caring consciousness, and you’re some bit of the way there.

Damien Dempsey is quite simply and unequivocally himself: Damo.

He’ll draw on Orwell and Kavanagh, on Chomsky and Joyce, but you probably won’t know that by listening to the album. It’ll just make sense if you happen to go looking for it.

In Almighty Love there are overt references to Gandhi, Marie Colvin, Tony Benn and Rosa Parks. There are themes of injustice and longing and loss, of heartache and hope, despair and adventure, excitement and childhood.

This is an album from a travelled man, from a singer who is still rooted in the local but not bound by the locale, and not afraid to stretch his geographic and vocal boundaries. He is reaching out beyond the Dublin shoreline of his youth and diving into a new artistic sea.

His vocal range too has broadened its strokes. The punch is still there, but it’s more personal and he’s now more likely to show than shove.

In Chris and Stevie, the refrain “I’m missing you today” is maybe not one a 20-year-old Dempsey could have or would have sung. Now he is a man who knows it’s good to cry. Men should cry more. It’s okay for men to cry. Crying and singing. Crying and healing.

“I feel the hate in my own land against me for who I am,” sings Dempsey in Born Without Hate.  He is taking the discussion he started with an earlier song, Colony, and stretching the theme.

Back then, he sung about how some colonisers took what wasn’t theirs.

Now, he sings about how quickly the colonised forget what they didn’t have.

Glorious revolutions can breed terrible evil and rage. Bob Marley understood that and London based poet and rapper Kate Tempest understands it too. She collaborates with rhythmical focus and fury on Born Without Hate, adding to the internationally grounded feel of the album.

Like all good songwriters, heartache is never far away. In Bustin Outta Here, Dempsey is breaking from a bad place. He’s done with beating himself up. Others will do that for him. Now he wants to heal.

There isn’t a preachy pose on this album. He doesn’t have to force his point home. This album is as subtle as a Damien Dempsey album gets and yet it feels bigger. After listening, kids will still look to him as a Rocky-type figure and adults will still turn to him for his particular poeticism.

Of course, with any Damien Dempsey album, there’s politics. Or at least in this case, there is political thought. People have come to expect Damien Dempsey to say something about today, about the world, about us.

On Moneyman, he rails against the banking bureaucrats who have mortgaged entire nations for decades to come. He says it as it is, but manages to do so in a way that sets it in a historical and social context, which is relevant, and above all, real.

Ultimately then this is an album of grounded hope, both personal and national.

Making Almighty Love was a long and careful process. Damien worked with long-term collaborator John Reynolds, who is an internationally recognised producer. This is their fifth album together, and theirs is an instinctive and homely artistic relationship, and it shows.

Of the 100 or so songs earmarked for the album, they chose nine originals and one cover – Andy Stewart’s Fire in the Glen, which Damien was singing in the kitchen late one night and it stayed in the air and drifted into the studio.

Sinéad O’Connor, one of the greatest voices of her generation, adds backing vocals, but gives without taking. Her voice alongside Damien's makes sense in their mutual authenticity and authority. They both have something to say and they give each other the space to say it. Symbiotic is probably the technical term.

All that is mighty about Dempsey Dempsey is on this album. We hear the universality of the man and his concerns, are invited to connect with his accessibility, and can't help but be lured by his unique vocals and particular rhythms.

This is an artist who has grown up and is self-confident enough to do it his way.

The fist and the fragility: that’s perhaps how you could best sum up the lyricism of Almighty Love. It’s Dempsey singing from the heart and soul as he always does, but there’s maturity reflected in the lyrics now as well as a resignation, a brave emotional openness and an easing of unease in his own skin.

THE STORY SO FAR

Damien’s debut album in 2000, ‘They Don’t Teach This Shit in School’ set him apart as a unique and important voice, championed from an early stage in his career by Sinéad O’Connor and others. The follow-up, ‘Seize the Day’, released in 2003, marked the beginning of his relationship with producer John Reynolds, picking up many awards and leading to extensive international tours. Commercial and critical success continued with the release of the No. 1 album ‘Shots’ in 2005, backed by Brian Eno, and ‘To Hell or Barbados’ in 2007, which debuted at No.2 in the Irish charts.

Damien’s fans include Brian Eno, Sinéad O’Connor, Bob Dylan and U2, (both of whom he has shared a bill with), and Morrissey, who invited him to support him on his US tour. Damien is an award-winning artist, having won several prestigious Irish Meteor Awards including Best Irish Male and Best Traditional Folk Award. His albums have topped the charts and gone Platinum, and he has been lauded by, among others, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Billboard, MOJO and The Sunday Times.

Since the release of his last album, Damien’s creativity has found other outlets also. One notable project was with Irish graffiti artist Maser, on a project entitled ‘They Are Us’. This was sparked by Dempsey’s lyrics, and involved the painting of his words on derelict buildings in Dublin. Sales of the limited edition prints raised funds for The Simon Community, which was a charity set up to help the homeless and disenfranchised in Dublin and elsewhere.

Dempsey’s charitable work continued in December 2010, when he and Oscar winning songwriter Glen Hansard recorded and performed the Irish folk classic, ‘The Auld Triangle’. Monies raised went towards the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVP) ‘Keep The Lights On’ Campaign.

Last year, Damien also made his acting debut in the Irish feature film ‘Between The Canals’. His music is also proving very much in demand for soundtracks, with ‘Sing All Your Cares Away’ featured in the BAFTA Award winning film ‘Tyrannosaur’, while Damien contributes to two upcoming Irish films "Stalker" and "King of the Travellers".

Since his first live outings in the mid-1990s, Damien’s gigs have seen him wow audiences across the globe, and his performances have taken on a spiritual and soulful quality. These outings have been captured on two recordings: Live at the Olympia and Live from Vicar Street. Most recently, when asked who was on his hit list of artists for the main stage of the Sydney Opera House, music director Fergus Linehan listed Damien among his targets for one of the most renowned stages in the world. Irish and UK audiences will get a chance to witness that live power once again later this year when he embarks on an extensive tour, while next year he takes his live act to the United States and Australia.

Tours

Seventeen years into an astonishing career, Damien Dempsey releases his seventh... Read more
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ABC KIDS is the renowned home of trusted, quality entertainment for Australian Preschoolers. Parents and children alike have grown up with this much loved, iconic Australian brand.So following on from the popularity of previous volumes, The Best of ABC KIDS Vol. 5 features 29 tracks from all your favouriteABC Kids Music artists including The Wiggles, Justine Clarke, Sesame Street, Giggle and Hoot, Play School, Bananas In Pyjamas and many more!
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Australia’s favourite twins, B1 and B2, are turning 25 this year!2017 marks 25 years since the Bananas in Pyjamas series first aired, and in that time it has grown into a phenomenal worldwide success, going on to become one of the nation’s most respected, trusted and longest-running children’s series. To celebrate this milestone, ABC KIDS bring you a must-have music collection featuring those catchy songs that generations of Australian children have been singing and dancing to in their lounge rooms.Spanning two CDs, Bananas In Pyjamas – 50 Best Songs includes favourites such as the iconic theme song ‘Bananas In Pyjamas’; ‘The Mucklebird’, ‘Banana Detectives’; ‘Teddy Bear Twist’ and many more. Also included are much-loved nursery rhymes such as ‘It’s Raining, It’s Pouring’, and ‘Ring-A-Ring A Rosie’. And of course, no bananas collection would be complete without appearances from The Teddies and The Rat In The Hat!It’s the perfect soundtrack for a banana-tastic party!
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Jazz great James Morrison returns with an essential new album: timeless hits from The Great American Songbook, recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London with the BBC Concert Orchestra and conductor Keith Lockhart. Performing on a range of instruments (including trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, tenor sax and piano), Morrison brings his trademark virtuosity and flair to classics by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Jerome Kern and more. These tunes were originally made famous by many of the great singers of all time; for this album, Morrison especially commissioned arrangements that bring alive the melodies, styles and meanings that have made these songs so immortal and beloved. These jazz ‘standards’ are close to Morrison’s heart: “I proposed to my wife by walking into the bathroom playing My Funny Valentine, Every Time We Say Goodbye was played at the funeral of a dear friend, Summertime was the first time I worked with a singer, A Foggy Day was the first song I performed in public on the piano (aged 10), and of course Duke Ellington answered the unanswerable question ‘what is jazz’? (It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing).” James Morrison is regarded as one of the finest musicians of his generation, with a distinguished career featuring collaborations with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie and Ray Charles, invitations to perform at the world’s great venues and for multiple US presidents and Queen Elizabeth II, and pioneering education work. His collaboration with the BBC Concert Orchestra continues with a performance at the BBC Proms in August 2017.
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From the opulence of opera to the intimacy of solo piano: four centuries of luscious, languorous music that will seduce and delight. Music by Delibes, Cilea, Rachmaninoff, Puccini, Bizet, Monteverdi, Rodrigo and more.Art by Lord Frederic Leighton, Charles Landelle and Rupert Bunny.Timeless art and great music: ABC Classics and the Art Gallery of New South Wales present a new collection of albums bringing together culture from through the ages. From nineteenth-century visions of grandeur in Epic Classics to the sacred tradition in Divine Classics, and from Australia’s own artistic heritage to the world of the Modernists, these albums provide rich insights by bringing art and music together. Previous collaborations between ABC and AGNSW include music audio-guides for the blockbuster exhibitions The Greats, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and Nude: art from the Tate collection with the acclaimed Nude Live performances in collaboration with the Sydney Dance Company and the Sydney Festival. 
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Music can lift the mind to the heavens, and create an image of the divine here on earth. This collection surveys a millennium of music written for the Christian church, from the medieval nun Hildegard of Bingen to the modern-day mystic John Tavener, via baroque masterworks. Music by Handel, Bach, Allegri, Tallis, Mozart, Vivaldi and others.Art by Sano di Pietro, Domenico Beccafumi and Andrea Andreani.Timeless art and great music: ABC Classics and the Art Gallery of New South Wales present a new collection of albums bringing together culture from through the ages. From nineteenth-century visions of grandeur in Epic Classics to the sacred tradition in Divine Classics, and from Australia’s own artistic heritage to the world of the Modernists, these albums provide rich insights by bringing art and music together. Previous collaborations between ABC and AGNSW include music audio-guides for the blockbuster exhibitions The Greats, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and Nude: art from the Tate collection with the acclaimed Nude Live performances in collaboration with the Sydney Dance Company and the Sydney Festival.
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From Debussy and Ravel to Stravinsky and John Cage, the 20th century opened new worlds of musical colour and texture and brought new understandings of how music could speak to us. Music by Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Ives, Holst, Vaughan Williams, Britten and Berio.Art by Margaret Preston and Grace Cossington Smith.Timeless art and great music: ABC Classics and the Art Gallery of New South Wales present a new collection of albums bringing together culture from through the ages. From nineteenth-century visions of grandeur in Epic Classics to the sacred tradition in Divine Classics, and from Australia’s own artistic heritage to the world of the Modernists, these albums provide rich insights by bringing art and music together. Previous collaborations between ABC and AGNSW include music audio-guides for the blockbuster exhibitions The Greats, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and Nude: art from the Tate collection with the acclaimed Nude Live performances in collaboration with the Sydney Dance Company and the Sydney Festival. 
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A celebration of the grandeur and splendour of orchestral music, and its power to lift the human spirit and open up new visions for the future. Music by Strauss, Brahms, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Copland, Mendelssohn and more.Art by Eugene von Guérard, Conrad Martens and WC Piguenit.Timeless art and great music: ABC Classics and the Art Gallery of New South Wales present a new collection of albums bringing together culture from through the ages. From nineteenth-century visions of grandeur in Epic Classics to the sacred tradition in Divine Classics, and from Australia’s own artistic heritage to the world of the Modernists, these albums provide rich insights by bringing art and music together. Previous collaborations between ABC and AGNSW include music audio-guides for the blockbuster exhibitions The Greats, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and Nude: art from the Tate collection with the acclaimed Nude Live performances in collaboration with the Sydney Dance Company and the Sydney Festival. 
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New music in an ancient land: Australian composers paint in sound their visions of the past, present and future of their country. Music by Percy Grainger, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Peter Sculthorpe, Nigel Westlake, Elena Kats-Chernin and more.Art by Tom Roberts and Brett Whiteley.Timeless art and great music: ABC Classics and the Art Gallery of New South Wales present a new collection of albums bringing together culture from through the ages. From nineteenth-century visions of grandeur in Epic Classics to the sacred tradition in Divine Classics, and from Australia’s own artistic heritage to the world of the Modernists, these albums provide rich insights by bringing art and music together. Previous collaborations between ABC and AGNSW include music audio-guides for the blockbuster exhibitions The Greats, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and Nude: art from the Tate collection with the acclaimed Nude Live performances in collaboration with the Sydney Dance Company and the Sydney Festival. 
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Almost three decades in the making, The Wiggles Duets sees Emma, Lachy, Simon and Anthony sing some of their favourite tunes alongside some of the most sensational entertainers from Australia and abroad!Guest stars include Guy Sebastian, Slim Dusty, Kylie Minogue, Katie Noonan, Jimmy Barnes, Paulini and Troy-Cassar Daley, plus Steve, Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin and many more!
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Seventeen years into an astonishing career, Damien Dempsey releases his seventh studio album, his most exciting work to date, Soulsun.The lead single and opening title track gets straight to the point. Soulsun is accompanied by a colourful and life-affirming video directed by legendary rock photographer Steve Gullick, who has shot iconic images of Nirvana, Beck and Nick Cave over the years, just to mention a tiny few.“As ever, people can take their own meanings from it, but for me, it is about the sun that shines from within,” Dempsey explains.Soulsun sees the man affectionately known as Damo team up with a stellar cast of female guest vocalists, who are referred to as ‘the mighty Celtic Warrior High Queens’.Dido, who sold 21 million copies of her debut album, No Angel, sings on a tender love song entitled ‘Beside the Sea’. Fellow Dubliner Imelda May appears on ‘Big Big Love’ and ‘Pretty Girl Tree’ features Dingle singer Pauline Scanlon.Soulsun was recorded in long-term producer John Reynolds’ studio in north London. The striking cover image was created by renowned Dublin graphic artist Maser, who Dempsey worked with on large-scale mural works.Amidst all the plaudits Damo has won over the years, one of the most notable is contained in Morrissey’s Autobiography. The legendary singer describes Dempsey performing at a session in Dublin’s Four Seasons Hotel. “Damien captivates and enchants with all the love of one blessed and unselfish,” Morrissey writes. "I see myself crying at his funeral, missing him already.”“I’m not sure exactly what I did to deserve such praise," Dempsey says. “I had absolutely no idea I was in it until the book was published, but it’s nice to be appreciated by such an incredible artist and writer who’s unquestionably an absolute genius.”
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After almost two years since the release of her successful self-titled EP, Caitlyn Shadbolt has worked hard to create a new album that truly shows her growth and commitment to the craft. ‘Songs On My Sleeve’, Caitlyn’s exciting debut album, will be released May 26th via ABC/ Universal Music.Songs On My Sleeve is a personal album for Caitlyn Shadbolt, who spent time in her hometown, Sydney, Nashville and Bali penning the songs. Produced with Andrew Cochrane (Veronicas), it’s an album of love, friends and relationship breakups, but ultimately delivers some very positive messages.Featured in the list of album credits are some of the world’s most gifted and awarded songsmiths such as hip hop / R&B, Grammy award winning producer, M-Phazes (Eminem, Daniel Johns and Eskimo Joe); renowned producer John Alaiga (John Mayer, Jason Mraz and Ben Folds Five); country star, Brooke McClymont (The McClymonts); and ex-pat Aussies Kylie Sackley and Phil Barton who between them have had hit songs recorded by the likes of US superstars Alan Jackson, Leann Rimes and Lee Brice.Plus, signing on for a powerful duet is Reece Mastin who, apart from winning X Factor in 2011, has had number 1 singles and a double platinum, self-titled album.Songs On My Sleeve is set to surprise and delight and will herald the arrival of this talented songstress in Australia and abroad. Watch this space, Caitlyn Shadbolt is a rising star in the truest sense!