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.”
Damien Dempsey doesn’t hesitate in identifying the most satisfying aspect of his career. “Seeing what the songs mean to people is mind-blowing,” he says. “People come up to me and say, ‘You saved my fucking life.’ At the start, it was about saving my own life and healing myself. There’s music for everything; getting up and dancing having a good time, music to think deeply to…you name it, absolutely everything under the sun. There’s music for all situations, but my music is about healing and hope.”