Few voices are as emotionally evocative as singer-songwriter Damien Rice’s. It’s never quite what he’s saying or the words he’s written but how he says them, or in this case, sings them. His music has a poetic rhythm to it, with unconventional structures. His songs are melancholy, haunting, flowing verse to verse with ease. His music is, plainly speaking, beautiful.
Damien Rice released his first album, O, to a strong critical response, with some of the most soul-touching songs I’ve ever been privy to hear, with his song “The Blower’s Daughter” a definitive standout. He then released his second album, 9, in 2006. My Favorite Faded Fantasy is his first feature length album since, and it’s an impeccable reminder of his tastes, namely his bombastic, orchestrated instrumentals dressing up a simpler, lyrically bound album. It works because of how wonderfully the contrasting musical genres come together.
The album does move slowly in some spots, slowing down considerably for a song or two midway, but it quickly picks up the pace.
“Color Me In” is a beautifully wrought love song. It builds to a swelling crescendo, bringing the listeners on a thrilling ride as it closes out with the phrase “come let me love you” repeating, whispering its final messages.
“I Don’t Want to Change You” is the album’s single, and it paints a glowing picture of what the album is in a single song. Damien Rice is a singer who wears his emotions on his sleeve – like many of the great musicians – and any song of his is like a peek into his thoughts. While the album isn’t my personal favorite of his (that title still resides with his debut), it is an easy album to appreciate on a purely technical level. Rice isn’t afraid to slow things down just to build them up again, giving it a cinematic air. There’s a chamber folk vibe and the production quality is beautifully rendered, crisp and dreamy.
With only eight songs on the album and running at nearly 45 minutes, it’s brief enough to get a full feel on if the album works as a whole for you or not. “The Box” is an excellent use of the strings at his disposal, but it’s also easily the least interesting song on the album, forgettable the moment it’s over. “Trust and True” brings the tone back around to a more naturalistic and acoustic tone. It begins very quietly and ends similarly. But it’s the album’s closing tune that truly leaves a mark. “Long Long Way” is a pretty song. Simplistic, barebones and as close to a lullaby as the album is able to get to, the song is touching because it takes away anything extraneous. “It’s a long way back if you get lost,” he sings, and despite some of the songs being ultimately forgettable, “Long Long Way” is so lovingly wrought that ending on this note in particular can only leave you feeling favorable toward the album as a whole.
My Favorite Faded Fantasy is out now.