Paul Dempsey: Everything Is True

[12 July 2011]

By Ross Langager

On his solo debut Everything Is True, Something For Kate frontman Paul Dempsey finds himself halfway between the gutter and the stars. The Australian songwriter’s limber, acoustically-based compositions suggest the unpretentious and the everyday, but rise almost imperceptibly into the ether, edged upwards by electric riffing, crescendo harmonies, and other elevating sonic tricks, most notably on “Bird in a Basement”. His compelling and notable voice’s default setting is downy smoothness, but it plunges into animated snarls when it gathers steam and passion, as it does during the chorus of “The Great Optimist”. His lyrics gently wring the sublime out of the mundane, or, as in “Safety in Numbness”, the mundane out of the sublime. At its most effective, this approach bears considerable fruit. Singularly worthy of praise is the record’s closing track, “We’ll Never Work in This Town Again”, Dempsey’s assured navigation through Okkervil River territory. Blazingly original? Perhaps not, but even if the much-awarded Dempsey is not achieving anything revolutionary with this album, it remains solid, formidable stuff, nicely crafted with intelligence and care. It’s not extraordinary, but, like everything, it is true.

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