With a willfullness and a loud heart, the songs of Derek Dempsey push past losing to reach regaining. Struggle gives ground to a bold peace, pain gives way to survival, and hope is a matter of faith as well as reason. An American Sings His Song (Requiem for Johnny Cash) casts 'The Man in Black,' now left with the last cinder of life, as a pariah's messiah, ready for 'the welcome spiral' with an unabating self-containment. Finality is defied. An American sings that song on the radio and always will, and a flock of loners will always listen for it. In Josie, Josie a young woman full in the throb of life dies suddenly, and yet stays on, because 'this is how we feel/singing your song and just keeping it real.' Lullabye for Dylan is a threnody for a child who lived only 19 hours, and yet the lament's tendril-like yearning evokes the grace of life and grants a tenderness to the mourning. The lines from Yeats at the beginning impart the comfort of continuity, and though the singer might cry at any moment, he has his 'sweet love' nearby. The tune itself gives the impression that it has always been around, somewhere. In Six Billion Lights (On the World's Biggest Christmas Tree), snow falls and a little girl has the presentiment of her grandfather's passing. Snow melts, time pulses, the little girl now has a child of her own. The motion itself is a source of solace, and the very vastness of existence inspires and enlivening sense of significance and singularity. In Finally, a man claws his way to self-justification. Once he's there, the song flares out and becomes a kind of working class manifesto for the entire race. There will be no more weeping mothers, slaughtered babies, and fighting brothers. An earlier joyful time is ached for and evoked in Days of '92 and Memories Of. Days of '92 reveals a man gripped 'like a hungry child' by sorrow as he fears for his phasing relationship. He attains refuge by reliving a blithe moment from '92, and his final line, 'Are you waiting for me there?', is both a question and an anguished plea. There is a flicker of trust that wishing can make it so. Memories Of employs a trope from David Bowie's Golden Years to empower the expectation that a relationship at a point of dissolution can be pulled back. The love of Shine A Light is in domestic trauma, and the singer is forced to accept his own helplessness and turn to something outside himself for elusive answers. At last, he's able to shout, 'You're still with me, baby.' Your Love rhapsodizes over the infusing power of a love that is continually deepened by the contemplation of it's loss. Horses is a calling-on song for the future. It is like a personalized, more beneficient version of the proverb, 'If wishes were horses, beggars might ride.' Here, there's the promise that by right two people individually and together will enact their most hopeful vision for themselves. With this, Horses shares the deep breath optimism of all the songs of Derek Dempsey. David Dash Beacon 2011.