Few musicians have more than one aspect to their art, and of those that do, not all are willing to risk exchanging the familiar for the unknown. But on his debut solo album Paul Dempsey blazes a remarkable new trail that illuminates his standing as one of Australia’s leading songwriters from a whole new perspective.
Expectations should be abandoned – they’re superfluous. On Everything Is True, the immense guitars and conclusive backbeat that Dempsey has orchestrated over Something For Kate’s five acclaimed albums are put aside, succeeded by a striking new palette where a tender voice and expressive acoustic guitar are supplemented by airy rhythms, the expert punctuation of an electric guitar and gently immersive keyboards. This is music where light filters through the gaps, uplifting and eminently melodic.
From the sparkling, propulsive “Bird in a Basement” and the rousing acoustic workout “Fast Friends” to the soaring alt-country ballad “Have You Fallen Out of Love” and the sparse, evocative conclusion “Man of the Moment”, Everything Is True reveals a hitherto unknown canvas.
The title Everything Is True is itself indicative of how Dempsey’s work operates on multiple levels: if everything is true then there is no longer a benchmark for truth and therefore nothing is true. In such a situation everything, and everyone, must be evaluated on their own merits. For Paul Dempsey, who was pleased that people didn’t immediately connect him to the album’s first single, the wistfully beautiful “Out The Airlock”, that’s a welcome outcome.
“I’d like people to listen to it with the freshest ears they can bring,” he asks. It’s a minor request when the album is this good. After all, true greatness should manifest itself in unexpected, but wholly rewarding, ways.