Dermot Kennedy “Sonder” Album Review by Graham Finney

For most people, the last two years have been a bit of a nightmare however, for Irish singer-songwriter Dermot Kennedy, the last couple of years have seen his profile go through the roof and he now heads into 2023 carrying with him his new album “Sonder” the follow-up to his breakthrough debut “Without Fear”.

Picking up where his debut album left off, “Sonder” finds that, rather than rewriting his blueprint to success, Kennedy has played to the strengths which have made the Irishman a household name. An album full of reflective, honest songs, “Sonder” sees Kennedy looking back on past relationships on the regret-tinged “Something to Someone”. Underneath Kennedy’s reflective lyrics, beats slice after slice of shiny, easy-to-digest pop. It’s a formula that has served the Irish singer-songwriter well in his career so far and, on tracks like the more upbeat “Kiss Me”, it’s easy to see why.

The pondering “Dreamer” has hit written right through it and won’t be far off some of the other tracks when it comes to streaming numbers. While that does mean that you could level the criticism at “Sonder” and Dermot Kennedy that he’s not taken much of a risk with this album, it’s clearly a decision that has paid off.

Having said that though, tracks like “Innocence and Sadness” are songs that are guaranteed to have his audience wiping dampness from the corners of their eyes while “Homeward” is more of that polished yet inoffensive pop which Kennedy has injected into this album. Elsewhere, the multi-billion streaming hit “Better Days”, is the perfect example of what Kennedy is really capable of. It’s got the singalong lyrics, it’s got the big epic pop, it’s got the gentler parts – combine those elements together and you get a formula that has tugged on the heartstrings of over 115+ million music lovers.

Essentially, “Sonder” is the kind of album that doesn’t do anything different nor does it pull out any surprises. The question you should be asking yourself is whether this lack of anything new is enough to warrant this album getting your attention or not. Be warned though, if it isn’t, the feeling is that you could be in the minority.

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