While ‘O’ was still raw, and ‘9’ simply twisted the knife, Rice releases his latest after a long period of inactivity, and as the album clearly shows, a long period of self reflection. You can see a progression here from where he was, jealous and bitter at her moving on, to a man blaming himself now.
It’s his fault. He tried to get over it, but aspirations of “living alone ” were just “useless dreams”. If you’re not familiar with ‘it’ then this is quite an important part to read before you go on: In 2009, still raw, Rice told Hot Press that his greatest moment was “meeting Lisa Hannigan”.
They had a complex and intense relationship over the course of the previous years, which eventually broke down under the pressures of touring and temptation. “O” was the result of this. She was the subject of 90% of Rices material then, and it seems as if nothing has changed now, with every song clearly signposting that relationship.
They must be on amicable enough terms now, though, as Hannigan helps out and offers her vocals on this record.
He delivers his lines now more deliberately , and there’s less of a sense of off the cuff, pure emotion. Maybe that makes it lose something but it also adds a sense of experience. The metaphors are clearer and more considerate, he is the “Dogless bone”, he is an inanimate object that nobody values except for the Lisa Hannigan, the proverbial dog here. But that is only one of so many interpretations of those two words I could’ve picked out.
Lines like these remind me of how great a writer Damien Rice is. But do these moments come only too fleetingly in this album?
The focus this time around is on the musical input, with a much more orchestral presence than in his last runs out. It’s no longer the simple stripped down guitar in a friend’s living room like ‘O’, nor the occasional violin and drumbeat in ‘9’.
It is definite studio production.The songs sound almost Disney like, making me think of ‘Beauty and the Beast’. To illustrate my point, here’s a clip from one of my favorites on the album, The Greatest Bastard.
While all this grandeur risks losing an intimacy it does grab a sense of measured mourning, a distinctive new feeling to Rice. The lyrics are hopeless and there is a black hole where possibility is, insecurity. “Didn’t we”. But the instrumental arrangement Juxtaposes this.
This album makes me think about Rice’s open criticism and dislike of his album ‘9’, and what it could have been, should have been. He cited pressures induced by the record company of whom he had no experience of prior to that and band-mates as the reason, he felt it was rushed.
This album, again, is his measured response – despite it not being a happy one.
Overall, I wouldn’t immediately advise this to a person with a recent breakup – It won’t help. But if you want a solemn moment, a quiet atmospheric tune, this is very much the album for you.
You can find ‘My favourite faded fantasy’ on iTunes Here.