With every album he's released, opinions on Dempsey's music have hardened one way or another, but the dissenters might be surprised at how enjoyable some of 'To Hell or Barbados' is.

Taking its title from the Sean O'Callaghan book about the Irish who were transported by Cromwell to the West Indies, it finds Dempsey perfecting his craft in some areas and still with something to learn in others. But the good far outweighs the bad.

Beginning with the bluster of 'Maasai', Dempsey powers through five great songs of rock, folk and reggae before falling over his own momentum with 'Serious'. A hip-hop-inspired dialogue between a drug dealer and potential client, it's a track where some will feel the cringe factor is more memorable than the message.

The second half of 'To Hell or Barbados' isn't as strong as the first, but it does contain one of Dempsey's best compositions, not the epic title track but 'Summer in My Heart', a ballad that could inspire many covers in years to come.

Harry Guerin

To buy 'To Hell or Barbados' from the RTÉ eshop click here.