Saturday 17 March 2018

Kennedy has the Voice, but sadly not the songs

John Meagher

John Meagher

Brian kennedy




As a judge on the Irish version of The Voice (which pulled in far more viewers per capita than its UK equivalent), the cheery Brian Kennedy was beamed into living rooms every weekend for what seemed like an eternity.

Now -- brand association at the back of his mind, no doubt -- he has rushed out an album with a title that sounds uncannily like his TV gig. Yet, it takes chutzpah to give his latest offering such a name -- after all, it invites a rigorous assessment of said voice.

So how does the man from Belfast measure up in the vocal stakes? On the evidence of this album, he would probably make four hypothetical judges swivel their seats around to face him -- a reference that will only make sense if you've seen The Voice.

Ever since he first emerged, Kennedy's vocal has been his primary asset -- there's a lovely cadence to his delivery, and a vulnerability that's rarely far from the surface.

He cut his teeth touring with Van Morrison and, let's face it, Van doesn't work with just anybody.

But all too often Kennedy's voice has been let down by his choice of songs -- a long line of bland compositions that do him no favours.

He has released a dozen albums to date and has been well known for 15 years, but how many Brian Kennedy songs can you name?

The trend continues with this album, especially as the arrangements tend to favour a dull, middle-of-the-road hue.

Kennedy might have been better served by a more lo-fi production, one that allowed his voice to shine. Here, the tired jazz-lite muzak only serves to detract from his words.

There are exceptions: the upbeat, radio-friendly Best Days is rendered memorable thanks to the presence of the Dublin Gospel Choir, while On A Clear Day -- co-written with The 4 of Us frontman Brendan Murphy -- is likely to be a Kennedy live favourite for a long time to come.

Ultimately, though, Voice represents a missed opportunity and the less said about his cover of the Roy Orbison/Joe Melson classic, Crying, the better.


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