DAMIEN RICE 9 9th Floor Records (2006)
Damien's follow to the phenomenally successful O opens with an absolutely wonderful track - and the first single to be taken from the album - a beautiful piano and strings duet with Lisa Halligan who plays a Tori Amos type of role. It's a stunning way to open an album.
Trouble is, it raise the bar so high.
The Animals Were Gone is another slow and broody ballad, again with Lisa Halligan playing another telling part. It's a sad, reflective number as is much of the album. It isn't a record to blow the cobwebs away. It's music to slit your wrists to. And that's not a criticism - it's a tribute to the emotion that's put into the delivery of each and every song here.
Rootless Tree is brutal. Lisa adds weight again on Dogs, Coconut Skins (another intense number, this time with a distinct 1960's feel), and Grey Room.
9 will no doubt sell by the truckload on the back of the success of O and the lead single. But don't expect instant gratification. This is an album that needs to be worked at. But do that, and you're likely to be rewarded. Damien Rice - a Leonard Cohen for his generation.
Review by Pete Whalley