Damien Rice

Vector Recordings, 2003

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


Singer-songwriters armed with acoustic guitars are hardly a rarity. For every hundred or so soulful musicians, bemoaning lost love to the same tunes we've heard a thousand times before, there are only a handful of artists that manage to stand out. With that said, Damien Rice is truly one of those. Managing to create one of the year's most outstanding sleeper hits, Irish import Rice has crafted an intense album with just guitars, cello and his signature melancholy vocals.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Haunting and melodic, Rice has taken the best of Jeff Buckley, Dave Matthews Band and Don McLean and emerged with his own distinctive blend that defies the folk label placed upon him. O is one of those few albums that leave its mark on you from first listen. Rice has injected all the passion and honesty that's been absent from numerous releases lately into his modest debut. He manages to find beauty in any and every emotion and wastes no time submitting to tired, typical clich├ęs.

The album manages to grab you in from the start with the pleading desperation of "Volcano" and the understated yearning of the albums' standout track, "The Blower's Daughter" (some useless trivia -- it was featured prominently in the movie Closer, and hearing it in the commercial is what prompted me to go on an insane search for the artist behind the mysterious song!)

With the stunning simplicity of lyrics like, "Stones taught me to fly / love taught me to lie / life taught me to die" from the album's instant favorite, "Cannonball," Rice has created a masterful album that grips you from the beginning and flows along with an incredible sense of ease.

My only qualm with the album is the myriad of extra songs shoved into the sixteen minute long "Eskimo," which could have easily been sliced into separate tracks - especially when one is just a continuation of the previous track. But then again, that could just be me nitpicking for a flaw in this near-perfect album.

O is an endearing debut whose beauty will stick with you far after you're done listening.

Rating: A-

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© 2005 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Vector Recordings, and is used for informational purposes only.