On Strange Loop, his eclectic yet incisive second solo album, Paul Dempsey confirms yet again his standing as one of Australia’s crucial composers and lyricists, returning with 11 tracks that enclose surreptitious dry wit, the irregularity of the everyday, and the pathos of longing in a mix of magic hour melodies, striking instrumentation, and tenderly charged vocals.
Strange Loop is the sound of expanding musical horizons: of guitarmonies colliding with baritone sax; relentlessly driving rhythms and pianos being pounded; whispered vocals and reckless yelps; abandonment and containment; Queen and Kraftwerk; a room full of guitars and a notepad full ideas. For those who fell in love with the folk-tinged beauty and intelligence of his first solo album, Everything is True, Strange Loop reveals a super-charged Dempsey; his voice more potent and powerful than ever, his stories and characters magnified, his instrumentation more adventurous and playful. It's an album that sounds like doing what you want, and actually getting it right.
Most musicians would be content with being involved in a single much-loved project, especially one as constantly rewarded as Something for Kate (double figures for ARIA Awards nominations, winners of Triple J’s Album of the Year, multiple top ten albums), but Strange Loop is confirmation that Paul Dempsey will alternate between the beautifully rigorous noise he makes with Stephanie Ashworth and Clint Hyndman and his own diverse solo career.
Arriving seven years after the Something for Kate frontman’s acclaimed solo debut, 2009’s top five ARIA charts success Everything is True, Strange Loop is freewheeling in form but precisely executed; it’s a record that knows what it wants to say, what it needs to be.