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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Review: Tommy Dempsey - 11:11


Tommy Dempsey - 11:11
2009, Tommy Dempsey


Tommy Dempsey is a product of the 1980’s power-pop machine that still seems to fuel a lot of what Rock N Roll is today. The Boston-based musician spent a number of years playing in bands (Sunshine Jive, In The Pink), but set out on his own in 2002. Dempsey’s latest album, 11:11 pays musical homage to his roots, but with eyes set firmly on the future.

11:11 opens with Gone Unanswered, a mid-tempo rocker that ponders the presence in our lives of those who have passed on. It's a powerful song with more questions than answers that plays on the edges of 1980's British New Wave with something of a Paul McCartney meets Jeff Buckley feel to it. Dempsey shows a great Pop sense on Everything At All, a tune that might have been a huge Pop hit in the early 1990's. Dempsey wends his way through Useless and Look Ma, No Machines, two pleasant sounding but essentially benign Pop/Rock tunes on his way to Keep Guard, a poignant look at the ways we protect ourselves in interacting with others. The melody here is somewhat tentative and is very memorable. The chorus in particularly is a beauty, the sort that will recur in your mind at odd times for days.

The Other Sock plays like a classic Pop/Rock song that would have been huge two or three decades ago. Dempsey has created a melody and feel that instantly ingratiates itself with the listener. Butterfly Cage has similar melodic qualities, but at nearly six-and-a-half minutes drags on a bit too long. The same can be said across the board for Underground. Dempsey closes with Hello Like Goodbye, an acoustic singer/songwriter tune that might just be the best work on 11:11.

Tommy Dempsey has an extremely pleasing voice to listen to, and seems to have more than a passing relationship with melody, song craft and a sense for writing distinctive Pop songs, but he gets a little lost in his own creativity at times on 11:11. The end result is a pleasant but undirected album that vacillates between shining moments and long, drawn out songs that become difficult to get through. Dempsey writes Jack Johnson style songs with a New Wave feel, giving him a calling card on the competition in the singer/songwriter market, and will achieve the most success where brevity wins out. In the mean time, 11:11 is a great start from a talented artist who is still refining his craft.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Tommy Dempsey at http://www.tommydempseymusic.com/ or www.myspace.com/tommydempsey. According to Dempsey’s website, 11:11 should be available “this fall”, but no online availability is noted. Keep checking his site for availability. (Photo credit: Kiva Hamerling; Photography By Kiva http://www.photographybykiva.com.)

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