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To Hell or Barbados

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Album Review

In the early 21st century, it seems like the number of true storytellers in the realm of roots rock is rapidly diminishing. But then along comes a gentleman like Damien Dempsey, who appears poised to save the day, as evidenced by his 2007 release, To Hell or Barbados. The Irish singer/songwriter/guitarist has received acclaim by such fellow renowned artists as Shane MacGowan and Sinéad O'Connor, and with good reason — Dempsey's tunes hark back to a day when folk-based musicians were more concerned with penning their next tell-all tale of life, rather than merely penning songs in hope of selling to an advertiser. Take a tune like "How Strange," for instance — while holding no surprises in band instrumentation, it's Dempsey's vocals that supply the song's muscle. That said, Dempsey isn't looking to get pigeonholed into a single sound/approach, as evidenced by the bare-bones "Chase the Light," the electronic-tinged album-closing "The City," and "Serious," on which Dempsey assumes the role of an actor (as dialogue is featured rather than traditional singing). To Hell or Barbados is folk and roots rock with substance, with the sound of Ireland mixed in for good measure. A most intriguing cocktail.

Customer Reviews

Completely Brlliant.

If I were allowed to curse in this review, I would, because Damo’s newest effort is that $%#^& impressive. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, Damo is the real thing. There is really not much else to say. His ability to turn his thoughts into song with such passion, intellect and honesty is to be envied. Have a listen to "Kilburn Road" as it is exceptionally brilliant. Hands down Damo delivers yet again, as if there were any doubt.

Brilliant work by Damien Dempsey

There is not too much I can say about this great album that the previous two reviewers have not said already. This man possesses one of the finest voices I have ever heard in my fifty years on this earth, and the songwriting skills, and heart, to go along with that prodigious instrument that is the aforementioned voice. Nowhere on this album, in my estimation, are the full range of Dempsey's talents better showcased, if that is the correct word, than on the title track, which may be most fully appreciated after a thorough reading of the album's liner notes, or, failing that, the reading of a history of the English in Ireland, particularly during the time of Oliver Cromwell. Although it is not on this album, I will also like to recommend the version of Dempsey's song entitled It's All Good, found on Sinead O'Connor's fine Collaborations album. These two voices were made to sing together. My highest possible recommendation-happy listening to all!

Gotta Love Them Irish!

Damien holds the notes out on this one! His voice is strong and keeps you on your toes. The songs are so diverse that there is a track on this album out there for everyone. Have a listen!


Born: 1975 in Donaghmede, Dublin, Ireland

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s

Born into poverty-stricken Dublin in the mid-'70s, Damien Dempsey has a musical outlook profoundly shaped by the traditional working-class music he was exposed to as a child, as well as other artists who share his egalitarian social outlook: Bob Marley, Christy Moore, Luke Kelly, Shane MacGowan, and Elvis Presley. Since emerging as an exciting young talent in the mid-'90s, Dempsey steadily learned to control his wide variety of influences (which also included hip-hop and electronic music) while crafting...
Full Bio