Damien Rice- 9 (Vector)
review by Joe del Tufo

Track Listing

1. 9 Crimes
2. The Animals Were Gone
3. Elephant
4. Rootless Tree
5. Dogs
6. Coconut Skins
7. Me, My Yoke, and I
8. Grey Room
9. Accidental Babies
10. Sleep Don't Weep

Damien Rice seems to have nothing to prove. He has no musical agenda, fits neatly into no genre- until his debut album O hit big he didn't really have a proper band to speak of. And after selling two million copies of that debut album, more than four years passed without more than the occasional contribution to charity compilations (and one would be remiss in not seeking out the track Unplayed Piano, as it is among his strongest). But musically he seemed to have nothing to say, so nothing he said.

Until his bandmates starting pressuring him. Maybe he didn't have anymore good music in him, perhaps O was a lark. "We don't think you can do it." And as any good Irishman will do when called out, Rice got pissed and hit the pen and paper. Only this time he wanted to do something different, something a little more aggressive and heavy, not that O didn't have it's moments of cornered rage. But heavy is not exactly what arrived...

If you are not already familiar with Rice's work, you would recognize the track The Blower's Daughter as one of the pivotal scenes from the film Closer. Rice's approach is essentially this: emotion stripped to its essence, unsanitized by necessary musical structures, but often balanced against acoustic guitar, cello and piano, and laid bare for all to witness. Uniquely, he often shares vocal duties with the starry-voiced Lisa Hannigan, either as a duet or full track.

So it was with heavy in mind that Rice approached 9, a title which he claims "just felt right". Since the alternative was the Monty Pythonesque "A Hen Will Sit On An Unfertilized Egg", perhaps he was right to trust those feelings. And while 9 is by no means consistently heavy, it is also a distinctively different beast than O.

The opening track begins with simple piano and a melancholy Hannigan half-mumbling "is that all right with you... give my gun away when it's loaded." Rice joins as a cello lifts his voice up from the darkness. It is a brooding, placeless and ultimately gorgeous track that builds in postrock fashion to a borderline tantrum. It, more than any track Rice has produced thus far, encapsulates all of the elements that make his music unique.

The more straightforward The Animals Were Gone follows, a track that could easily have fit on O. We are reminded how visual and interesting Rice's lyrics can be. Where other songwriters may have approached the mourning of a dissolving relationship more directly, Rice gives us lines like "waking up without you, is like drinking from an empty cup", "Yesterday you asked me to write you a pleasant song- I'll do my best now but you've been gone for so long" and "I love your depression and I love your double chin." Quirky and poigant in the same breath.

By Elephant you are wondering where he's going to work in all of that heavy. But clearly it's not that kind of heavy he was referring to. Rice seems to communicate directly to the inner lack in all of us, and nowhere is that in greater relief than on this track. "What's the point of this song? Of even singing? You've already gone, why am I clinging?" Another track that trickles softly from spoken word/ plucked guitar to a sudden and alarming crescendo. As all of the pieces chitter to the ground, and Rice mouths "this has got to stop," we are reminded that no one else is creating music like this right now.

From the "Fuck You Fuck You And All You Do" of Rootless Tree, the emotional protest song that is Coconut Skin to the searing fury of Me, My Yoke and I, the listener feels like more than just a witness on this intricate journey. Rice puts you right between him and his pain and dares you to watch. It's interactive blues. It's an emotional snuff film. It is a revelation.

For this listener, the highlight of 9 is buried near the end of the disc. Sung to a lover who has left him for another, it's a song that's been done a million times. But never like this. Listening to this track was like hearing Jeff Buckley for the first time, when you knew you were experiencing something magical- something that transcended even the artist's intentions. "Do you come, together ever with him? Is he dark enough? Enough to see your light?" Rice puts it out there, with little apologies for what his uncensored heart has the say. And the punch line is worth every second. "Well I know I make you cry and I know sometimes you wanna die. But do you really feel alive without me? If so, be free. If not, leave him for me... before one of us has accidental babies." A twisted and comical way of saying Come Back To Me. And all of it, simply spoken over a mournfully plucked piano.

To my ears O took almost a year to fully blossom. 9, on the other hand, arrives as a beautiful and urgent album, but one that is still constantly surprising me and reinventing itself after many listens. If you are interested in hearing the most exciting artist to come along in ages, give 9 a spin. It may not be the exciting you might be expecting, kind of the way it was not the heavy I was expecting, but trust me, as someone who listens to hundreds of CDs each month, this *is* exciting.

Damien Rice creates music to remind us that perhaps the heart is meant to break.

"I have no desire to make statements. I've no desire to try to be something other than what I am or to try to make the music something other than what it is."

marillion- happiness is the road
tilt- million dollar wound
mickey simmonds- the seven colours of emptiness
ukz- radiation
pain of salvation - scarsick
icon- icon II, icon live
the pineapple thief- tightly unwound
planet p project- levittown (go out dancing part II)
nosound- lightdark
dengue fever- venus on earth
art of all- morgan
marillion- somewhere else
abigails ghost- selling insincerity
blackfield- blackfield II
damien rice- 9
the who- endless wire
the beach boys- good vibrations
the pineapple thief- little man
the killers- sam's town
tom petty- highway companion
hem- funnel cloud
emm gryner- the summer of high hopes
jeremy enigk- world waits
razorlight- razorlight
gps- window to the soul
iron maiden- a matter of life and death
thom yorke- the eraser
richard butler- richard butler
the flaming lips- at war with the mystics
ray davies- other people's live
david gilmour- on an island
nosound- sol29
jackson browne- running on empty 5.1
neal morse- ?
king crimson- 21st century guide to king crimson
shriekback- cormorant
depeche mode- playing the angel
pallas- the dreams of men
my morning jacket- z
riverside- second life syndrome
roger waters- ca ira
various artists- backs against the wall
riverside- out of myself
sigur ros- takk
killers- hot fuss
queen + paul rodgers- return of the champions
journey- generations
yes- the word is live
emmylou harris- heartaches & highways
van der graaf generator- remaster series
rob dickinson- fresh wine for the horses
annie- anniemal
dredg- catch without arms
foo fighters- in your honor
dream theater- octavarium
belle and sebastian- push barman to open old wounds
the go-betweens- oceans apart
porcupine tree- up the downstair (remaster 2005)
coldplay- x & y
nine inch nails- with teeth
aimee mann- the forgotten arm
van der graaf generator- present
christopher o'riley- hold me to this
glen phillips- winter pays for summer
new order- waiting for the siren's call
ben folds- songs for silverman
john doe- forever hasn't happened yet
trashcan sinatras- fez
adrian belew- side one
kaki king - legs to make us longer
longview- mercury
stereophonics- language. sex. violence. other?
for against- echelons
over the rhine- drunkard's prayer
kathleen edwards- back to me
kasabian- kasabian
porcupine tree- deadwing
the wedding present- take fountain
super furry animals - songbook
arena- pepper's ghost
snow patrol- final straw
rpwl- world through my eyes
tori amos- the beekeeper
kino- picture
monarch- the grandeur that was rome
spocks beard- octane
the wonder stuff- escape from rubbish island
richard barbieri- things buried
the pineapple thief- 12 stories down
the pineapple thief- 8 days later
the innoncence mission- now the day is over
zero 7- when it falls
pain of salvation- be
california guitar trio- white water
jelly jam- 2
tim bowness- my hotel year
van halen- the best of both worlds
glen burtnik- welcome to hollywood
charlie mars- charlie mars
porcupine tree- voyage 34 (2004 remaster)
saint etienne- travel edition
lanterna- highways review
hellboys- cha cha with the hellboys review
persona non grata- the fine art of living review
tegan and sara- so jealous review
guadalcanal diary- 2x4 reissue review
voices in the wire- signals in transmission review
roger waters- to kill a child/ leaving beirut review
luna- rendezvous review
jim white- drill a hole in that substrate and tell me what you see review
the drive-by truckers- the dirty south review
the blue nile - high review
lovedrug- pretend you're alive review
twilight singers- she loves you review
keane- hope and fears review
winds- the imaginary direction of time review
kristeen young- x review
asia- silent nation review
macha- forget tomorrow review
crystal method- legion of boom dvd-audio review
kevin moore- ghost book review
marillion- don't hurt yourself singles review
attrition- dante's kitchen review
rush- feedback review
tortoise- it's all around you review
division of laura lee- does not compute review
peccatum- lost in reverie review
iq- dark matter review
bass communion- ghosts on magnetic tape review
the push stars- paint the town review
virgin black- elegant... and dying review
marillion- marbles review
the streets- a grand don't come for free review
the veils- the runaway found review
all about eve- let me go home review
john young band- live review
mary lou lord- baby blue review
the divine comedy- absent friends review
pink floyd- the final cut (2004 remaster) review
prot-kaw- before became after review
jeffrey gaines live review
mocean worker- enter the mowo review
starsailor- silence is easy review
pineapple thief- variations review
lloyd cole- music in a foreign language review
david sylvian- blemish review
spock's beard- feel euphoria eview
guy manning- press pack sampler review
magellan- impossible figures review
the tangent- the music that died alone review
john gorka- live from grace church photos and review
hothouse flowers- into your heart review
charlotte martin- on your shore review
rasputina- frustration plantation review
stellastarr*- stellastarr* review
vast- nude review
sparks- lil' beethoven review
the damnwells- bastards of the beat review
dave gahan- paper monsters review
king crimson- power to believe review
fish- field of crows review
porcupine tree- in absentia dvd-audio review
new model army- great expectations review
antimatter- unreleased 1998 - 2003 review
catie curtis: dreaming in romance languages review
the gathering- sleepy buildings review
twilight singers play blackberry belle review
vienna teng- warm strangers review
opeth- lamentations dvd review
courtney love- america's sweetheart review
blackfield review
anathema- a natural disaster review
nearfest 2003 coverage
neal morse solo photos- metuchen, nj
porcupine tree broadcast
alpha- stargazing review
david sylvian at the tla
emm gryner at the point
barry andrews at the tin angel
tweaker:2 am wakeup call review
cure- join the dots review
fish live from the tla with john wesley
spearhead- everyone deserves music review
miles hunt (wonderstuff) live

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