While Damien Rice’s 2002 debut release, O, slowly gathered critical acclaim, and awareness
of his talents subsequently diffused through alternative music
circles, Rice’s musical presence came to a heady realization in
2004 when “Blowers Daughter” became a sonic billboard for Nike
Nichols’ film Closer. Almost five years later, Rice has
released a follow up, 9, this time to an aware and
expectant world. One might suspect this puts added pressure on an
artist. But Damien Rice has always been a man of his own defining,
and 9 clearly sees him maintaining such a stance.
Aided by Rice’s plaintive piano, Lisa Hannigan’s vocals soothe us into a
classically brooding ballad to open the album. As Rice takes over
the vocalizing, Vyvienne Long’s cello soars before Rice and Hannigan
start trading vocal countenance. And just as the song reaches its
crescendoing pinnacle, it all falls away leaving nothing but a
gentle piano line. Rice has a gift for such musical seduction which
songs such as “Elephant” and “Accidental Babies” also demonstrate.
And he also has an infectious command of dynamics – something that
“Rootless Tree” lays firm testament too.
9 is enchanting, awkward, honest, raw, and beautiful.
And Damien Rice proves that the only expectations that matter are
those imposed by the creator.
(Photo by Robbie Fry)