-By Patrick Smith
Paul Dempsey is one of Australia’s most skilful song writers. Originally of Something For Kate fame, Paul has just released his second solo album, Strange Loop, and it is just another example of the songwriter’s incredible ability to pen intricate and complex thoughts.
The album was finished some time late last year and Paul says he’s “been living in a bubble with it” ever since. Asked if he was excited for the world to hear his latest offering; “Yeah absolutely. I mean you’ve got to brace yourself for everybody else hearing it and offering their opinions on it.”
“It’s great while you’ve got the album all to yourself as your own piece of work, but once it’s out in the world it’s not yours anymore, its not as personal. And then you start touring it and the songs take on a whole new shape, so it sort of changes”.
We can look forward to a tour planned through August and September.
Strange Loop was recorded in Chicago, “by coincidence”. Dempsey really wanted to work with Tom Schick, who co-produced the album. Tom had just moved to Chicago, so Paul met him there at the organised studio which happened to be Wilco’s Loft Studio. Dempsey arrived, songs already penned, and played every instrument on his 11 track LP.
“I went in with a pretty precise map of what I wanted. All of my demos are really detailed, I essentially just needed to go in and re-record. ”
The album is another stunning display of Dempsey’s ability to translate deep, perceptive thought through unescapably beautiful melodies, cleverly penned lyrics and a brilliant comprehension of song writing. Although, for those battling to complete their own songs, you can take solace in the fact that even Paul Dempsey doesn’t know what he is doing, or so he says. Paul say’s every time he writes a new song it’s like he is experiencing the whole process again for the first time. “I feel like I’m still learning how to do this. When I’m writing a song it seems hard because it feels like I don’t know how to do it, but I get there in the end and its worth the effort”.
This album comes from a more observant point of view, as if Paul is a little more comfortable in the world he lives in now. “I’m driven by curiosity and fascination at reality, I spend a lot of time wondering what the fuck all this is. And that used to be a scary thing and it used to kind of make me anxious or depressed but it doesn’t anymore, I kind of accept it all with bemusement”.
“I’m a totally different person now I so I have totally new ideas and new thoughts that I want to write about. I guess now I don’t think it comes off as… frustrated”.
Paul Dempsey’s work will always be synonymous with his time with Something For Kate, however with the release his 2nd solo album is a clear sign that he is to be regarded just as significantly for his solo work. Dempsey has spoken often about the difference between working in a band and working on solo projects. “Working in collaboration requires compromise, which is fine, because the end result is just as satisfying for everybody”. There is no surprise then, that his solo work provides the most unrestricted view into Paul’s thoughts and musings. An album of thoughts completely un-hindered from external manipulation.
“When you’re doing solo stuff you’re the boss of everything, especially when you’re playing all the instruments yourself, you can just get down to work and knock everything over. The reason I do solo records is it’s the closest I get to recreating exactly what I’m hearing in my head, exactly how I imagine something being and I just do it, whereas with a band it’s a product of three people”.
Dempsey has talked openly about his experiences with writers block in past years, however that is all behind him. “I Don’t think of it as writers block anymore, now I don’t believe it exists. I just think if you’re not getting anywhere or if something’s giving you trouble the only way to get through it is to keep on working. You’re not going to get through by waiting for some magical flash of inspiration to come out of nowhere”
And what’s driving somebody who’s already so accomplished? “There’s always a better song, or a better thing I haven’t done yet”.
“I love playing music and making music and making sounds and putting songs together, and when it comes to lyrics I love trying to find new way to express complicated things that can be difficult to express in everyday language.”
“I’m Driven by the same things but now I’m able to express it with less frustration and more curiosity”.
Photo Credit: Paul Dempsey