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Outnumbered

by Dermot Kennedy

Following the enormous success of Lewis Capaldi’s 'Someone You Loved', it’s tricky to take this Dermot Kennedy number at face value. I just can’t shake the vision of some cigar-waving svengali addressing a room full of industry suits with the words, “Hey, if a gravelly voiced Scot can bludgeon the charts into submission with I-V-vi-IV, then why not a gravelly voiced Irishman?” To be fair, at least Kennedy’s following a slightly less well-worn route here, using IV-I-V-vi in a three-eighth/five-eighth harmonic rhythm — although Dan+Shay’s Grammy-winning 'Tequila' also gave that one a pretty decent flogging recently. This song’s main guitar riff also dutifully apes the laziness of Capaldi’s lead piano, constructing its line by simply doubling the bass line in thirds.

Putting all that aside, though, I like the production sound. What a beautifully warm and solid bass timbre! In this respect he knocks spots off ‘Someone You Loved’, which feels rather lightweight by comparison. And the kick is a lovely specimen too, with a powerful low-mid–range ‘knock’ and a surprising degree of bottom-octave power given its restrained decay. I might have wished for a little more mid-range transmission from the bass for the benefit of small-speaker listeners, but the melodic loss here is perhaps mitigated a little by the guitar riff’s subservient doubling.

It’s also smart that the lead vocal’s only real source of high-frequency competition comes from the snare and hi-hat, but these are both of such short duration that their frequency-masking effect is minimal, so the emotional details of the singer’s performance remain effortlessly upfront throughout.