When Damien Rice released O back in 2003, it caused a bit of a frenzy. It was full of beautiful melodies, gentle acoustic guitar, and brilliant songwriting. It was the kind of album that most solo acts are dying to make, but so few actually do. As O gained more and more momentum, it was put on such a high level that the dirty little words “sophomore slump” started drifting around. Sure, another O would be fantastic – no, ideal – but was it even possible? To answer that question, Damien Rice gave us 9.
The album opens with “9 Crimes”, a beautifully haunting piano ballad showcasing the hushed vocals of Lisa Hannigan. The defeated feel of the song builds right up to the end where the harmonies that Rice and Hannigan produce are nothing short of heartbreaking. “Accidental Babies” continues on later within the same vein; although at first glance it may seem like just your typical piano ballad, the desperate tone in Rice’s voice along with how slowly the song itself moves eventually takes it’s toll on the listener, leaving behind a shadow of gloom by the time it ends.
9 also shows us Rice stepping out of his usual range a little more with songs like “Me, My Yoke & I” and “Coconut Skins”. “Me, My Yoke & I” features a powerful full band, including (gasp!) an electric guitar and a handful of passionate yells here and there. “Coconut Skins”, although resorting to Rice’s customary acoustic, is faster paced and displays bits of an almost scornful attitude.
“Elephant” is quite possibly the strongest track that 9 gives us. The verses are extremely stripped down, with the guitar in the background barely audible, the chorus displays just how amazingly intense Rice’s voice can be, and the third verse is so heavily layered in comparison to the rest of the song that it almost seems to explode through the speakers.
In it’s entirety, this album is yet another example of how the solo acoustic act can still sound completely rejuvenated; whether it be with the help of additional musicians, experimenting a little, or just making sure that the songs sound full despite how stripped down they actually may be. Although 9 isn’t going to catch as many people off guard as O did, I have a feeling it’s more than enough to dismiss even the slightest concern of any sort of "slump” coming from Damien Rice.
I didnt like this CD, with the exception of like 3 really good songs (especially the first track) this CD was slow and choppy and just got boring after listening to it for the first time. He could had done a lot better.