Dermot Kennedy took this assignment seriously. The Dublin singer-songwriter wasn’t content with merely re-creating his songs as they sound in the studio, or stripping lavish productions down to simple acoustic arrangements. So he got himself a gospel choir.
More specifically, Kennedy and his band flew in from Ireland a day ahead of time to meet and rehearse with members of Washington, D.C.’s Howard Gospel Choir. Every arrangement was painstakingly plotted ahead of time, so that every note would be perfect.
Two of the songs Kennedy performs here (“Moments Passed” and “An Evening I Will Not Forget”) pop up on an EP he released this year with hip-hop producer Mike Dean, and both sound radically different in this performance. They’re still forceful — and still centered on the singer’s elastic, bombastic voice — but also looser, warmer, more open.
Put simply, they sound like the work of a future star: a modest former busker (and current NPR Slingshot artist) with a voice built to fill stadiums in more ways than one.
- “Moments Passed”
- “An Evening I Will Not Forget”
Producers: Stephen Thompson, Bronson Arcuri, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineers: Suraya Mohamed, Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Bronson Arcuri, CJ Riculan, Khun Minn Ohn, Niki Walker; Production Assistant: Catherine Zhang; Photo: Eslah Attar/NPR.