Photo: Rob Benson Photography
Info: An absolute obsession with words and melody took hold of 23-year-old Dundalk folk artist David Keenan at a very early age. Exposed to the writings of Behan, Yeats and Wilde with the soundtrack of Dylan, Buckley and The Dubliners illuminating his formative years. Inspired by the storytelling and character creations of his grandfather, he took the boat over the water and gathered tales and tunes of his own, learning his craft and expressing his love of language.
Having been asked to play alongside the likes of Mick Flannery, The Hothouse Flowers, Damien Dempsey and Glen Hansard, David is fast becoming one of Ireland's most talked about young artists.
I find myself in the unusual position of reviewing a musician for the first time who I have listened to on so many occasions for almost a year, and seen live already many a time. Normally the reverse is the case, where I'd hear the release first, and then go to the live shows and immerse myself in their music. It also feels a bit funny as David Keenan has such a large repertoire of songs at this point, and while he has previously released singles, 'Cobwebs' feels like it is happening at the true beginning of the crest of a wave.
Keenan's song-writing strengths are many, and new ones emerge to my ear on a regular basis. There's the sheer power of emotion, which is delivered via the twin pillars of observational lyrics and his sweeping vocal, which can go from soothing to intense force within the space of one line of a song. There's the romance, in the traditional sense, but also in creating a feeling of nostalgia for people and places we've never met or seen.
Photo: Remy Connolly
With 'Cobwebs' Keenan does exactly what he says on the tin, taking us through one of his stories, picture by picture, with a smash and grab of the heart. It feels like a story of love, interspersed with moments where the story-teller is briefly distracted by the seemingly mundane if humorous events unfolding around him; 'There's a wino barking at the pan-flute player, at the top of Jervis Street, urging him to get a real job, help out....I smile at the irony'.
From those colourful anecdotes Keenan delivers a searing verse, from soft to hammer-blow in an instant; 'Long story short, she informed me of my flaws, as Russian dolls smashed against the bedroom wall, come away from the window ledge, you'll catch your death of cold, and you'll be no use to anyone....least of all me'. The music does the painting too, with the electric guitar notes trickling down the strings like the beads of moisture of the title's cobweb. 'Cobwebs' is short, and it needn't be any longer, at just over three minutes it's plenty to leave its mark on the listener. I've a lot more to say about David Keenan's music, but I'll leave it for another time.
David Keenan - 'Cobwebs' rehearsal at The Liquor Rooms, March 16th.
Video by Rob Benson.
David Keenan is currently on the Never Mind The Mocks Tour, and you can catch him at the following venues around the country;
March 24th - The Reg, Waterford
March 25th - The White Horse - Ballincollig, Cork
March 30th - Bakers Bar, Clonmel, Tipperary
March 31st - Tricky's McGarrigles - Sligo
April 1st - McKenna's Bar - Monaghan
April 2nd - The Spirit Store - Dundalk
April 6th - John Daly's Pub - Mullingar, Westmeath
April 13th - The Bowery, Rathmines, Dublin 6
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