The Return of Damien Rice
Our favourite Kildare-man is back to mystify us after an 8 year hiatus which began in 2007. Following the release of his second album 9 and his subsequent, capsule romantically-fuelled, here split from bandmate Lisa Hannigan, the hermit singer-songwriter has barely raised his head at all, much to the dismay of fans. Then out of the blue, he recently announced a third album and released teasers of the title track; “My Favourite Faded Fantasy” to tantalise followers once again. The notoriously PR shy artist was never one for doing things the normal way, and arguably this was the downfall of his second album which failed to meet sales expectations. However this mistake hasn’t had a negative effect on his career and instead it has only served to heighten the anticipation and expectation towards his next project. It seems he has learnt his lesson from his earlier albums and current press releases and performances on Jools Holland have helped his popularity to surge upwards once more, so much so that he is playing a tour of 15 sold out gigs including Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.
As for the style and personality of his music he hasn’t changed at all, his moody melancholia picking up right where he left off with 9, all those years ago. In a clip he released of “My Favourite Faded Fantasy” he combines the soft familiar guitar tones of his quieter songs with full orchestral string pieces to add drama and passion to his pleading lyrics. It also contains hints of Rice’s exotic side given that it was written and recorded in places like Los Angeles and Iceland, and the clip also appears to feature him singing in his Tuscan retreat. This juxtaposition of soft folk sounds and loud string accompaniments continues in his other early release “I Don’t Want to Change You”. From what we can tell from this album so far is that Damien is still suffering from some terrible heartbreak, and whether he’s still brooding over his devastating split with vocalist Lisa Hannigan or whether he has finally come to terms with it, one thing is for sure; it has driven him to write some of his most intense and brilliant songs. His loneliness and regret spills forth and inform every note and every word that he sings. He has always had more concern for his songs and the meaning behind them than the subsequent fame that they have brought him and for that he is to be admired. His success as an artist stems solely from his honest and genuine music. He may try to convince us that he is the loneliest man on Earth but in fact he is loved by millions throughout the world.
Damien Rice will play a sold out show in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre on Nov 3rd and his full album will be released the same day.
By Kevin O’Rielly