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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 or 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


Debe said...

Love love love his voice! Talented beyond!!

peterthegreen said...

Just listened to 'Everything at All'. Great song! Style is very reminiscent of Lindsey Buckingham.

Anonymous said...

Butterfly Cage is a masterpiece ! It is a must listen from an incredibly talented artist! Tommy Dempsey is the real deal folks!