- 01 Apr 22
Renowned Irish poet and musicians join forces
In an increasingly cynical world, the concept of a man speaking his poems aloud over a nine-track album sounds, on paper, oddly earnest – almost uncomfortably so. And that is exactly what makes Stephen James Smith’s debut LP, See No Evil, so fearlessly refreshing.
In an intimate contrast to the dramatic onstage delivery typically associated with spoken word, the Dublin poet invites the listener to lean in – as he captures the magic energy hidden in the cracks of his city’s footpaths, and the spiritual elation found in seemingly everyday interactions, with beautifully simple words that cut straight to the heart of the human condition.
Although there’s always been an inherent musicality to Smith’s approach, it’s elevated even further here by composer and producer Gareth Quinn Redmond’s genre-blurring soundscapes. With the help of Villagers’ Conor O’Brien, Jess Kav, Lemoncello's Laura Quirke, Cormac Begley, and more, they effortlessly bring the worlds of poetry and music together, to craft something that feels like one naturally intertwined force, rather than background accompaniment.
As well as offering up candid portraits of the characters that populate every Irish town, there’s a deeply personal, familial pulse that bleeds throughout the project – from Smith's complicated but powerful love for his mother on ‘The Gardener’, to his musings on an unborn sibling on ‘Saintly Sister’.
These are the tales of an artist who’s clearly spent enough time in both the darkness and the light to understand the complexities of the space in-between. Play the album in your headphones the next time you’re walking through Dublin, and let yourself fall in love with the place and its people over and over again – despite it all.