But what makes Dempsey’s way with a cover so good?
Firstly, his understanding of what makes a song tick; he’s the brains behind one of the most underrated songbooks in Australia, after all. Both as a solo artist and fronting Something For Kate, he’s written music that’s affecting, anthemic, and deceptively complex yet affably accessible. It’s given him the toolset required to efficiently analyse and reproduce the ins-and-outs of songwriting.
Secondly, and more simply: that voice. Coming up with SFK during the late ‘90s landscape of post-grunge and emo, his singing ploughed with the emotional intensity and urgency of both scenes. His pipes have also proven to age like a fine wine, the gruffer edge of his grain now benefiting from a more refined and flexible falsetto. Just compare the larynx-busting yearning of ‘Captain’ to the quiet resolve and dynamics of ‘Idiot Oracle’.
This post from Double J discusses Paul Dempsey’s perchance for covers.