Feature: David Keenan „WHAT THEN?“

David Keenan Interview und Review

David Keenan neues Album „WHAT THEN?“ im Review; Fotocredit: Adam Heffernan

Der Ire David Keenan ist ein wahrer Wortkünstler. Auf seinem neuesten Album “What Then?” liefert er 11 neue wortstarke und sehr eindrucksvolle Songwriter-Songs. Nur 1 Jahr nach seinem Debüt, folgt nun also das zweite Album und darin perfektioniert er seine Suche nach seinem wahren ich. Nach den Vorstellungen, wie er wirklich leben will und wer er wirklich sein möchte. Nach dem internationalen Erfolg seines Erstlingswerkes fasste der Künstler selbst seinen Mut zusammen, zog als Artist in Residence in die Stadt der Liebe und veröffentlichte dort einen Gedichtband.

„WHAT THEN?“ wurde in den Cooley Mountains nahe Davids Heimatstadt Dundalk aufgenommen und von Jonathon Mooney von der Indie-Band Other Lives produziert. Also wieder zurück in seine Heimatstadt und von dort aus zog er sich neue Inspiration für die Songs. So entstehen neue Bilder und die sind nicht irgendwie nur punktiert oder leicht gräulich und verblasst. David Keenan malt knallbunte, satte Bilder und wer schon mal in Irland auf dem Land war, weiß wovon wir hier sprechen.

Als perfektes Beispiel, wie gut die Lyrik und das Songwriting funktionieren dient meiner Meinung nach “Hopeful Dystopia”. Der Sprechgesang, die gefühlvollen Texte und dazu sein begnadetes Talent die Gitarre zu bespielen. Man fühlt sich einfach direkt wie in einem Film oder in einer Reisereportage. Man merkt einfach wie stark der Ire ist, im Geschichten erzählen und darin, einen als ZuhörerIn zu packen. Vom einfachen Gitarrenpicking (Me, Myself and Lucancy), über die volle Besetzung mit Streichern (The Grave of Johnny Filth) und so als sitze er einem direkt gegenüber in einem vollen Pub. Mein absoluter Liebling ist “Sentimental Dole”. Man merkt hier gerade wie stark David Keenan hier stimmlich agiert. Das ist mitunter eines der stärksten Songwriter-Alben in diesem Jahr.

David, your new album „What Then?“ follows your debut album, which was released just last year, very soon. What serious change did you notice for yourself during that time and how did you develop as a songwriter?

David Keenan: “After the release of „A Beginner’s Guide to Bravery“ I headed for Paris, living there for a month. My intentions included: writing a book of poetry and putting myself together again after what seemed like a lifetime of effort to reach the first album’s launch. During that time of solitude I started to investigate just who I thought I was, where I came from, and started looking at shadow and light. The new songs started coming, and then the world shut down, but as the year progressed so too did my investigations, so too did the album’s narrative: an exploration into humanness, during a time of intense change.”

What characterizes your new album is, among other things, the well-known search for meaning of everyone themselves. What help do your 11 new songs give us?

David Keenan: “The songs reveal that innate human desire for information, self examination and trying to come to terms with life itself. Honesty is a tool which helps uncover truths, and I discovered that in the facing of fear and pain, Illumination is found. Hope, reconnection, wholeness, healing. This is my most personal work, so I’d hope that others can identify with that outlook and find solace as a result.”

„What Then?“ you recorded in your Irish hometown of Dundalk. What memories will you associate with this place for your whole life and what makes it so extraordinary for you?

David Keenan: “Dundalk is exhibit A. It’s where I can trace my identity back to the beginning of memory. It’s a language of preconceived symbols and ideas. The studio was where I first recorded music at fourteen years of age. My great grandfather farmed sheep on the side of that mountain – fact! It was a coming home, the ideal space to make this album, the only space it could’ve been made.”

Guests on the album include your namesake and „soul brother“, Scottish author David Keenan, Irish poet Stephen Murphy and American drummer Aaron Steele. How was the collaboration and why did you bring two writers on board?

David Keenan: “My namesake David Keenan is a fantastic writer and I’ve been a fan of his work since we met and collaborated back in 2018. He narrates the opening of „The Grave of Johnny Filth“ because I imagined his disembodied voice as Johnny Filth himself, this piratical, shadow self, overlord of that environment. Stephen Murphy has been a friend for many years, it was important for me to have his presence on Sentimental Dole as he represents the Irish Bard, ancient, powerful, wise. Aaron Steele helped lay down the percussive backbone of the album. Wild and Zen-like when required. Jonathan Mooney, who produced the record, lent much of his skills to the development of ambience, a simmering undercurrent, like the one I feel when inspired.”

Is there a typical Irish momentum for you on the album?

David Keenan: “I’m not sure what typically Irish means. My sense of Irishness or what it means to me ebbs and flows, especially while living abroad, which allows for a different perspective. I think we’re skilled storytellers with a natural ability for sculpting visual images. The album closer „Grogan’s Druid“ certainly feels like an Irish standard in ballad form, with my Grandfather’s voice leaving us in fits of laughter at the end. A fitting way to close.”

Your life is shaped by the constant search for dreams, romance, a way out and the desire to flee. What was your most romantic moment recently that you got to experience for yourself?

David Keenan: “I had the opportunity to wade into a wild river in Colorado recently. Freezing water, stillness, no noise. That was fairly romantic, and stunning.”

To be very honest with yourself is a monstrous process. That has to be learned first. What has helped you the most that you are now practicing this very well?

David Keenan: “The opposite of honesty is dishonesty and we’ve all experienced self deception of some kind at some point in life. I’ve learned that it gets in the way of growth and that the rewards on offer for being honest with self and others are vast. Fuck the fear, for what do we have to lose when the cards are down? It’s a daily practice. So too is living in the world. Much to learn, so much to explore.”



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