on March 28, 2007
I stumbled upon Damien Rice's debut "O" after hearing the completely in your face "The Blower's Daughter," which was very effectively used in the Mike Nichols movie "Closer." It's one of those songs that you can't get out of your head. "O" also included the catchy "Volcano" but what made it earn 5 stars for me was the complete confidence in which Rice just lets his musings come out. None of the other songs were as catchy, but no less enjoyable as he commanded attention even when he was almost silent.
"9" starts off with the gorgeous "9 Crimes," which even more than "The Blower's Daughter" had the fortune of getting some serious airtime as it was prominently used in a November sweeps episode of "Grey's Anatomy." That song has an otherwordly feel that I don't remember feeling since hearing Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" in the mid 1980's.
The rest of the release is by no means disappointing, but there has been such an influx of singer/songwriters in the past few years that it is difficult to stand out. Here Rice seems less concerned about letting you in on his thoughts as he did in "0", than in telling his tale and giving you the option of listening in if you want to. He does not project with the same force and it makes for a less showy record. To me that is not a bad thing as he could have easily made a sequel to "0", but here the stories are more dense, confusing, but ultimately quite universal.
If you liked "0" as a whole and not just the better know songs, it's a safe bet that you'll like "9." On the other hand if you don't like this type of confessional music, nothing here will change your mind about this artist.
No sophomore slump for Rice and here is to many more releases of this caliber. They can't all earn 5 stars, but there is a significant number of singer-songwriters who are proving that they too can hold their own in world where pre-packaged and overly produced releases seemed to be the only options in the horizon.
on November 25, 2006
This one grows on you, just like his first album. It stops short of reinventing the style but does a very good job not repeating O. For example, here we have electric guitars, more percussion, production that goes from very simple to often masterful in the same track. At first listen a song like Rootless Tree is a simple then offensive, but after a few listens Damien fans will hear the brilliance in it.
This isn't music manufactured to hook you in between radio ads. With music being the way much of it is today, I've found that I've "tuned my ears" to the templated song, waiting for the quick hook so I can absorb it, listening a few times then throw it away, but you can't do that with Damien's music and if you approach it that way you're likely to pass his work off as simple folk music. But if you listen trying to search for what he's trying to say, if you seach for the soul of the artist you'll find no mask on this album. 9 is a coherent work, it is a brilliant album every bit as good as O, if anything it has more variety than O. I think a lot of people will say, there's no Blowers Daughter or there's no Cannon ball on 9. I guess I don't understand those comments, because I always thought of those songs as just part of the sum of that album. I never thought they defined that album as a great album. 9 doesn't have a few stand out tracks , but it has a lot of brilliant moments spread out across the album.
One quick historical note. Track 3, "Elephant" was originally titled "The Blowers Daughter, Part II" and has been showing up in live sets for a long time now.
on January 19, 2007
Misery. It's an international language. So while the lyrics to "The Animals Were Gone" are delivered up in Damien Rice's soft Dublin tones, the plangent strings, hesitant melody and descending chords could just as easily accompany some French chanson in which the message is "je regrette".
Melancholy is smeared liberally over this follow-up to Rice's spectacularly successful album "O".
You would think that we would have had our fill of down-in-the-dumps singer-songwriters making semi-orchestral productions out of songs which would once have been strummed in the back rooms of pubs, but Rice has done pretty much what David Gray did with "Life In Slow Motion" - he has produced a work of such sincerity and quality that it transcends its genre.
Best moment here is "Elephant", which begins with quiet voice and almost inaudible guitar, building in intensity to heartfelt keening and a rush of orchestra and percussion before dying back to a mumbling conclusion.
Emotionally, it is as if Rice has climbed a mountain and fallen down the other side.
on November 16, 2006
I have to disagree with the Amazon review. 9 is every bit the worthy successor of O. In fact, I feel Rice has expanded his sound a little including a few more upbeat tracks. His lyrics remain at his pristine best, poignantly dark and still emotionally stirring.
The opener 9 Crimes is a chill-inducing ballad with Lisa Hannigan, just like a terribly frank exchange of words between a desolate couple. Then there is the movingly lovelorn The Animals Were Gone ending in a sweeping violin climax and the evocative Elephant where Rice rises from a mere whisper to eventual heart-tearing scream towards the end. Things go on a lighter note on the seemingly lyrically-inane Dogs and Coconut Skins and this is where the causal listeners need to read further.
Grey Room comes closest to being an O continuation, along the lines of the splendid Delicate.
The closer Sleep, Don't Weep ends the album on a tender note, almost like Rice having reached a resolution of sorts, then quite not yet there.
9 is definitely the answer to a long 4-year wait after O. Savour the greatness, it just might be another 4 years before good music like this is bestowed upon us again.
on November 27, 2006
A question raised to pretty much every new talent is how you will follow up your debut, well received or not. It's of course much easier to follow up a mediocre debut for expectations are not set very high and you have the opportunity to wow them the second time around. But in the case of Damien Rice, whose 2002 debut `O' was so brilliantly crafted he's faced with the dilemma of following up a masterpiece. Damien is one of the few artists who has been able to do this successfully, delivering an album that's just as good (I won't say better) than `O' and just as imaginative and inspired as his previous work.
Starting things off with the hauntingly beautiful `9 Crimes' which attacks the subject of infidelity with raw fervor and haunting truism. The piano really creates the mood on this song, and it's that piano that also lends it's mood to the final two tracks here as well, the beautiful `Accidental Babies' and the opus `Sleep Don't Weep', both of which are standout tracks here. `Accidental Babies' in particular really gets to my core and actually brings tears to my eyes as Damien pleads with his ex-lover to leave her man and return to him before they have `accidental babies' or in other words before they make lasting mistakes that bind them apart from one another.
`Sleep Don't Weep' is one of many (or so it seems) that sing of coming to terms with the end of a relationship, and `Sleep' in particular does so elegantly. Another ballad to ease the pain is `Rootless Tree' which is probably one of the best tracks here. Here Damien releases his inner anger, going from relating what he expects out of his failed love affair and what he truly feels about her after the fact. `The Animals Were Gone' is another about the feelings of loss, and this song in particular sounds true to form for Damien, like something we may have heard on `O', as does `Grey Room', both sounding like what we expected to hear.
`Elephant' or `The Blowers Daughter, II' makes more sense now that I know that. I at first was thinking "these chords sound familiar' and now that I know it's a follow up to the song itself I'm a little more at ease into liking it so much. It's definitely the sexually frustrated Blowers Daughter, with lines like `this has got to lie down with someone else on top' and that whole `horny' part.
`Coconut Skins' is one of the funnest songs to listen to here, its whole beat and vibe is jolly almost. I just love singing along, it really gets my head and feet and hands going at a good pace. Now that leaves me with `Dogs' and `Me, My Yoke + I' two songs I could have lived without, but neither of which are dreadful to the point of loathing, they just don't really showcase what makes Damien such a brilliant artist. Oh well, they are the two reasons I won't say this is a better album than `O' but what makes it an outstanding sophomore effort is that it proves to be different than its predecessor for Damien delivers something fresh instead of just recycling perfection track for track.
on November 22, 2006
This is no "O," but it is beautiful. I've listened to the whole album multiple times, and while it lacks that tangible emotionality that defined "O," it still has some gems such as "9 crimes," "elephant," "rootless tree," and "accidental babies."
Rice is at his best when the music is low and his voice carries the lament, loss, and pain. We love when his vocals crescendo to the point of screaming. Rice's voice should always be foregrounded, and the music should only become the center when he is not singing and when the music seeks to continue an emotion the Rice has begun expressing. When he strays away from that tactic you get songs like "dogs," "coconut skins," and "grey room," which are displaced and almost unlistenable.
We come to Rice expecting dramatics in his voice that very few singers are able to accomplish. We don't need the veneered pop music beats and a voice that harmonizes and becomes part of the music.
I don't want Rice to make variations of "O" for all of his career, but he has the brilliance and ability to continue in this vein and flush out different styles only his voice is capable of. If he makes more songs in the style of the three mistakes I listed above, then we've lost another beautiful singer to drab, formulaic music.
on June 2, 2008
Damien Rice set the bar ridiculously high with his 2004 release, O. On his debut, there was incredible production and amazing sounds coming out of every track. While the follow up to O, also a single character title, 9, is a solid album, fans expecting the artistic saturation found on O will be somewhat disappointed. While Damien Rice's song writing is solid, his voice is great and the lyrics provide good images, we don't get anything like the backwards singing on "Cold Water," or the clinking glasses on the drunken "Cheers, Darling," or the raw emotion so direly expressed in "The Blower's Daughter" or "I Remember" or the Sweedish opera singing on "Eskimo." Instead we hear Rice producing an album that is more straight-ahead and with fewer layers. There's more electric instrumentation on this record as well, leaving fans thirsty for the acoustic tranquility of O as well. Don't get me wrong though, it's a pretty good album and if this were Rice's debut, it would probably score 4 stars or maybe even a 5. However, those of us wanting something equal to or greater than O will be a little confused by 9. It's still worth the money, but don't get your hopes up. Personally, I'll forgive Damien for a little sophomore slump and anxiously await his next release.
on December 6, 2006
Ever since I bought this album, I have been unable to stop listening to it, especially at night alone in my apartment. I agree that this is quite different from 'O', but this only proves Rice's incredible talent.
The album is sparser, with less operatic background from his debut, but I can always turn to the earlier CD when I want that. Here, everything is in the lyrics - there is much more emotional distress in this album, and the 'explicit lyrics' only makes it that more genuine. While there are a few lighter tracks (Dogs, Sleep Don't Weep), the obsidian (shining black gems lol) of the CD (and this is where I disagree with the Amazon reviewer wholeheartedly) are 'Rootless Tree' and 'Me, My Yoke, and I', which are the perfect break-up songs.
If this album had come out a couple of years earlier, I am almost certain that it would be in its entirety the soundtrack for 'Closer', more so than 'Blower's Daughter' and 'Cold Water' from O.
Smart, sassy, and socially incorrect - Damien Rice has a (too unique) genius that I've still not found anywhere else.
on January 29, 2007
As much as I liked "O" (The movie "Closer" and Natalie Portman will always be associated with "The Blowers Daughter"), I think this album built and improved upon his debut. The opening song "9 Crimes" is wonderful and eerie and the melody has a haunting effect that frames the album perfectly. I also loved the songs "Dogs" and "Coconut Skins." What I think makes this album so refreshing is the way that Rice has made the chorus matter again. I've found that music in recent years has suffered from a long-standing want for choruses that aren't nonsense and superficial gunk. I wish I could say more about why this album is so good, but you'll have to listen for yourself. It's well worth the money, especially for fans of Alexi Murdoch, Badly Drawn Boy, and David Grey.
on August 25, 2014
I guess it's all a matter of taste. I like at least a little bit of ALL of Damien Rice's music and would love to see him continue writing, recording and performing. Still, I mainly bought this CD for the song 9 Crimes, and because I still like to support artists that I enjoy. I love the song 9 Crimes and didn't have to buy the entire CD but I prefer discs over mp3s..it's just personal taste. 9 Crimes is definitely the best song on the CD and possibly the only one worth having from it.