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9 is the follow up for folksy Damien Rice's infamous debut album O.
The album opens with 9 crimes, piano leading the gentle ballad. It builds slowly from simple piano riff to overlaying vocals with cymbal and cello and odd bumps and bangs. The 'Is that all right?' refrain keeps returning and becomes annoyingly lodged in one's head. It's certainly shows difference from Rice's debut. Whilst the first album was quite and fragile this sophomore effort appears larger and amplifies some of Rice's subtlties. Perhaps on this song not all to my taste...
Rootless Tree should come with a warning. What begins as quiet, guitar and muttered vocals develops into a chorus with a 'fuck you' refrain. Please keep one hand on the volume knob if sensitive ears are nearby. It's startlingly and the chorus, forgetting it's lyrics for a moment, feels almost as if it belongs to a stadium rock outfit. It's new and it's something that would be completely out of place on the first album. Damien rocks but the reason I liked his first album was because it filled a void that all out rockers simply couldn't. It had fragility and subtlty which I thin this album is all too short of.
One song I really do like off the album is Cocunut Skins. It's bouncy and folky and shows real afliction as well as odd metaphor I can assume in the lyrics. What he means by coconut skins one can only speculate... It's a thankful moment amongst an album which feels largely ingenuine. Whilst his debut came off as emotive and touching 9 feels almost like a cruel imitation of the feelings Rice managed to produce on O. It's not a terrible album but sickly pale in comparison to his debut.
I was listening to a bit of Damien Rice on the way into work this morning, both 'O' and '9', one after the other. Listening to them back to back made me realise that they are actually quite different and I think that in '9' Damien Rice is angrier and feels a bit more rebellious - well he swears, a lot on one song, and seems a lot more confident. But at the same time, they are the same - hoarse howling to acoustic guitar strumming and folksy plucking to bleeding heart mutterings.
It made me think I should do a review, so here goes:
9 was released three years after Rice delivered his breakthrough O album, back in November 2006.
The album opens with 9 Crimes with Lisa Hannigan's reflective, almost reverend, apologetic vocals and accompanying piano haunted by betrayal and regret, then soon entangled in Rice's guilt and self loathing. Sounds depressing, but it sets the tone for the album, as if Rice is hurt, angry and hitting out.
There are various themes highlighted and explored by Rice throught this album (and it does have to be said that not too many are uplifting, happy themes!) such as: Lost love (Accidental Babies, The Animals Were Gone), the angst of breakup (Me, My Yoke & I), and deep contentment (Sleep Don't Weep) and being cheated on (Dogs) are painted out in arrangements both sparse and delicate to dense and violent. The anger on display during Me, My Yoke & I (even though it is the angriest song on 9, it is my favourite) seems all the more jarring after the quiet intensity of the earlier pieces...which makes the thoughtful closer Sleep Don't Weep that much more delicate.
In fact The Animals Were Gone is a quirky, earthy love song where Rice offers one of the only non-abrasive musings in the album, crooning things like "I love your depression/ and love your double chin". What a fantastic line! Brilliant, although I'm not sure any woman would like me complimenting her double chin or bringing it to her attention at all!
This album is quite addictive: from the savagery of Rootless Tree, which starts as a deceptively saccharine ballad, then explodes with anger, to the sublime, fragile Accidental Babies.
Elephant is quite introspective, as Rice is literally pouring his heart out - you almost feel as though you are interuppting some self purge. Apparently this was originally called The Blower's Daughter II.
Lisa Hannigan's contributions are again faultlessly beautiful: her understated yet full-hearted tones weave in and out, sometimes mid-sentence, often barely in the mix. In fact, I bought her album last night, so after I have properly listened to it, appreciated it and digested it watch out for a review on here!
For me though, O will always be the bigger better brother of 9. Yes, it is good and at times hauntingly beautiful, but the absence of stand out songs like The Blower's Daughter and Eskimo mean that 9 does not quite hit the same heights for me as O did.
My advice is to buy both O and 9 and listen to them, back to back if possible to see the growth of both confidence and anger of Damien Rice.
1. "9 Crimes"
2. "The Animals Were Gone"
4. "Rootless Tree"
6. "Coconut Skins"
7. "Me, My Yoke + I"
8. "Grey Room"
9. "Accidental Babies"
10. "Sleep Don't Weep"
11. "The Rat Within the Grain" (This is a bonus track).
Damien Rice's debut album, 'O', was a bit of a hit in certain circles, with his powerful and emotional lyrics hitting home to those who like a bit of heartfelt poetry in their music as opposed to the full concentration being on the musical element.
Four years on, in 2006, '9' comes onto the scene, evoking more haunting lyrics and sounds, with an element of mature quirkiness than was present before. Indeed, lyrically, it is incredibly personal and profound as an album, with progression presented through the the music and not necessarily the lyrics, which ensure each track is individual.
I must admit, I really have to be in the right mood for Damien Rice's music. I have to feel completely relaxed and contemplative, in a casual setting. The music is quite dark and full of pain, and it's not something to listen to whilst driving or getting ready for a night out, for example. It's a slow and thoughtful album, and yes, it's very dreary in places, intentionally so.
In many ways, this detracts from my overall enjoyment of the album. I prefer a bit more of a balance, perhaps erring on the side of upbeat sounds with a few downbeat tracks. Rice gives us a majorly depressive feel from his heart, which, powerful though it is, confuses me in terms of whether I actually enjoy it or not.
For a track to kick things off with, '9 Crimes' is by far and away for me the best of the 10 tracks on offer here. The melodic and not completely depressive instrumental sounds are offset beautifully by the soft and haunting vocals of Rice, and the equally soft vocals from fellow folk musician Lisa Hannigan. The combinations and timing in this track are what makes it so powerful and emotional.
Similarly, 'Rootless Tree' has a bit of a rhythmic feel to it, with expression coming forth in the use of swear words as much as anything else. These two sandwich a couple of hard to handle tracks, where Rice flits between singing and talking, with no real rhythmn evoking a feeling of uneasiness, one that in fact tends to continue as a theme for the remainder of the album after 'Rootless Tree'.
Personal asects come into his music as much as hurt and pain and misery that is projected to us. Things such as the discovery of masturbation in 'Me, My Yoke And I', as well as the battle between lyrics and piano in 'Accidental Babies'. This album has many reasons why it should not be taken lightly, and these are just a couple of examples. There is an immense amount of personal passion on show here, with Rice seeming to not really care for commercial appeal, but just writing what he feels like telling us.
The resultant effects of all this are that we have a very unrestful album, with lyrics and instrumentals often at loggerheads, melodies battered by depressive words, and soft and calming words battered by grating sounds and uneven melodies. The whole balance is a furtive and misery laden effort, and while the magic of this is not at all lost on me, I would have wished for something a bit more inspiring, something a bit less taxing to understand and appreciate. Rice has definitely found his own personal niche, but it is sadly one that I'm not that ready to have a look round yet.
Perhaps with time, and the occasional track being given a chance here and there, I may actually grow to like this as well as appreciate the skill and passion involved, but for the moment, it's one I shall respect from afar, and it can sit on my shelf until I'm ready to drown myself in contemplative misery once more.
Damien Rice - 9 (2006)
Producer: Damien Rice
The Animals Were Gone
Me, My Yoke & I
Sleep Don't Weep
9 is the second studio album by Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice. His debut album, O, made quite an impact upon release and Damien Rice was hotly tipped as the latest King of Pain. I can second that, as he does seem to enjoy a good whinge.
The opening track, 9 Crimes, is as good an opener as any. Fellow Irish folkie Lisa Hannigan contributes some wonderful vocals to 9 Crimes, almost threatening to eclipse Rice's efforts with her fragile voiceover. Both of their performances are heartfelt and your attention is drawn to the lyrics, the music merely providing a vehicle for their story of loss. It's a real gem and is of exceedingly high quality. But perhaps it sets the bar a little too high, as the rest of the album struggles to reach similar standards.
The Animals Were Gone is one of the better songs from 9. It evokes memories of Nick Drake, but it perhaps lacks his honest and bare emotion. The orchestration is second to none and flows really well. Again, it is Lisa Hannigan who truly shines and her backing vocals are out of this world.
I don't think all that much of Elephant. It really drags out its running time, It really drags out its running time, slowly pulling you under with Rice's misery. Musically, it is stripped bare and has basic production values, but it is really for the best with this kind of music. Towards the end of its running time it does get exciting and explodes into a fury of noise, but I doubt that many of you are still listening by the time it reaches this point.
Rootless Tree was taken as a single from the album. The chorus is very explicit, needlessly so in my opinion, "F*ck you, f*ck you, f*ck you and all we've been through!" Despite this, it is one of the more obviously commercial tracks on 9 and provides a good outlet for Rice to exorcise his Demons of Angst.
I find the back to basics strumming of Coconut Skins extremely gratifying. Occasionally during 9, Damien Rice arranges his songs in a needlessly minimalist way, but Coconut Skins is an all guns out acoustic assault. Perhaps it's best to just let these natural disasters take place, rather than to try to water everything down and make them more palatable? Just a thought!
A little birdie tells me that Me, My Yoke & I is an ode to Damien Rice discovering masturbation as a teenager. His favourite past-time obviously stuck with him, so much so that he felt he had to tell us all about it. Musically, I bleeding well hate this song. An annoying slide guitar repeats itself and creates the effect of a killer bee zooming in and out of ear shot. There is also an unnecessary distortion effect on Rice's vocals which make me want to rip his voice box from his throat and jump up and down on it.
I'm not a violent person, honest.
Grey Room is a return to the melancholia of The Animals Were Gone. If you haven't realised as of yet, I have a real soft spot for Lisa Hannigan's vocals and I firmly believe that the songs which are the most effective feature her backing. Rice sounds dreadfully sad as he sings, "Wait for me child, even a smile would do for now..." The orchestration rises and falls during the verses, aiding his words no end.
I'm in two minds about Accidental Babies. The title is genius, of course, and the piano chords possess a very sorrowful charm. However, the lyrics seem to go into overkill with their self-deprecating misery. So, unfortunately, when Rice is giving with one hand, he is taking away with the other. Meh.
Sleep Don't Weep is definitely the most basic recording on the album. Very peaceful and modest is its instrumentation; it eventually leads into Damien Rice 'playing' wine glasses for over 15 minutes and the last thing we hear from him is his continued whispering in a foreign language. I really enjoy his vocals during the song; they have a real down-to-earth quality about them.
@ CONCLUSION @
9 is a good enough album, but it does little to genuinely challenge or excite the listener. It is very pleasant and the songs which work best are those on which both Rice and Hannigan are singing. However, the album does tend to plummet where quality is concerned when Rice simply tries too hard to sell us his stories of loss.
Read more reviews at www.danielkempreviews.co.uk
Damien Rice doesn't really fit in with my normal listening pattern, but somehow he's got me hooked! 9 Crimes opens the album with its haunting lyrics and the whole thing goes from there. He seems to gave got the dramatic lyrical pause down to perfection, and the songs don't flow like normal songs do, but this isn't a criticism, it just makes me admire them more. If you are someone (like me) who thinks in a lot of cases the best music is fantastically simple, Damien Rice seems to take that theory and throw it back at you in a big way. The album lilts along quietly followed by big moments and then songs will return to serenity again, but serenity would be the wrong word, as Damien is not a happy boy, his music is etched from pain, whether it be the pain of the world or his relationships within it. But enough waffle, The animals were gone, Elephant, Rootless Tree, Dogs, and Accidental Babies in particular will demonstrate what I'm going on about. whilst this is definitely a mood album, you will be captured by the beauty of this record over and over again!
This is one of the most enchanting, capturing albums of all time. It is musically and lyrically intense, taking the listener on a rollercoaster of emotions. Damien Rice has been described as the 'king of pain', and you can really see why with this glorious album.
This song starts with a beautiful melancholy lonely piano, which plays broken chords, which create a delicate, broken feel to the song, setting up the entrance for the delicate broken voice of Lisa Hannigan, his other vocalist.
Her voice is beautifully haunting, unforced and genuine.
After the verse and chorus, Damien enters with the second verse, throughout light elements of other instruments join, building the texture, and creating a highly emotional and dramatic song. Damien and Lisa do a gorgeous duet and Lisa sings counter melodies under Damien, which adds to a hectic state of mind that the song portrays.
The lyrics are strong and passionate and upfront:
'leave me out with the waste this is not what i do
it's the wrong kind of place to be cheating on you
it's the wrong time she's pulling me through
it's a small crime and i got no excuse
and is that alright yeah?'
***The Animals Were Gone
The gently picked guitar contrasts the previous track, and Rice's solo, raw voice enters, and it is very natural. He sings with the guitar for the first verse, when the second verse starts, we hear light strings which add lovely light chords to his singing. The first chorus we hear, has a harmonic addition of Lisa, which is always kind to the ears! The lyrics are of his deep love for a lost love, and his words are from the heart.
'At night I trip without you
and hope that I don't wake up
Cause waking up without you
Is like drinking from an empty cup'.
After he has finished singing, there is an arrangement of the chorus for strings which is repeated. Then, a sudden key change throws us into haunting vocal sounds, not words. This ends the song with a desparation, a feeling of being lost.
This desparation follows through til the next track-
Damien starts this song accapella with a slightly broken voice, which adds to his dismay. At first, the accompaniment is light as he beings to ponder, but as his emotions rise throughout the song, the accompaniment becomes more intense and his words more desperate.
'what's the point of this song or even singing?
'if you've already gone, why am i clinging?
well i could throw her out
and i could live without
and i could do it all for you
i could be true'
He is wonderfully fresh and true in this song, mentioning how he is 'lately horny' which at first is quite a shock to hear, but his honesty is so raw that you forgive him, and applaud him for it.
The end of the song sums up the opinion of most peoples opinion of their loved ones.
'but ye can't make me happy
quite as good as me..
you know that's a lie'
This song has more rock influence, and is at a quicker speed, which gives it more movement, and fuels the passion felt by Rice. The track less accoustic than his other tracks, with electric guitars etc. But these instruments really add to the anger felt by Rice, and express his emotion wonderfully.
'so fuck you
and all we've been through
i said leave it
it's nothing to you
and if you hate me
then hate me so good that you can let me out'
A refreshing change from the highly angsty 'rootless tree'. About the aspects of a girl. And girls listening to this track will agree that we all want someone to feel like this about us. I want someone to feel like this about me, so yeah, its a lovely change from the last track.
'and she's always dressed in white
she's like an angel man she burns my eyes
when she turns she pulls a smile
we drive her 'round man she drives us wild'
I don't personally understand this song, but I like the light and more folk melodies of the song, which is accompanied with a tambourine when Damien breaks into his 'la's' which sing the chorus.
'you can hold her eggs
but your basket has a hole
you can like between her legs and go looking for..
tell her you're searchin' for her soul'
***Me, my yoke and I
We enter back into Rice's hurting mind with this song, his hurt how repetitive his desperate search for salvation through the means of 'fishing' with his 'rod'.
gonna break you
gonna break your wall'
'me, my yoke and i
gonna make us choke
I relate to this song, as I was in a 'relationship' with a guy who was ruled by his own 'fishing rod', and although he obviously enjoyed himself to an extent, I think it damaged him, and I think he has struggled with his ways.
I enjoy Rice's pure, no frills honesty. It is an incredibly open track, which one would not expect to hear.
The track ends with the similar guitar slides that it starts with, maybe to simbolise the endless cycle he has got himself into.
A deep song about how one's life often becomes intensely dull and lifeless without the one you love.
'i'm all alone again
crawling back home again
stuck by the phone again
well i've been here before'
'sat on a floor in a grey grey mood
where i stay up all night
and all that i write is a grey grey tune'
Most people who have found love, have been here, and it's desperately unfortunate. I think Rice portrays these feelings and lost emotions incredibly well in this song, and I like how it intensifies throughout, but not to the extent it would contradict the words. The song still remains relatively restrained, which I like, as it actually relfects the lyrics.
This is one of my favourite tracks of all time. The haunting opening of the piano with dusty recording is desperately lonely, which tells the story of the song.
Damien's sung prose is full of feeling and intense pain. The words are often sung with a slightly broken voice, which feels more real and natural. Passionate.
The chorus goes as follows;
'do you come
together ever with him?
is he dark enough
enough to see your light?
do you brush your teeth before you kiss?
do you miss my smell?
is he bold enough to take you on?
do you feel like you belong?
does he drive you wild?
or just mildly free?
what about me?'
Some of the most intense lyrics I have heard. It reflects the emotions of wondering if they love them more than they loved you. At first, it starts with concern and almost mockery, saying how she isn't going to find anyone more right than himself.
He then goes on to revealing his true feelings and emotions in the words:
'but do you really feel alive without me?
if so be free
if not leave him for me'
'what about me?'
I think he speaks for many of us out there with these beautifully crafted, heart wrenching lyrics. How we never really get over love, we still want them, we want them to still love us.
***Sleep Don't Weep
A caring song about how someone he loves must find who they are, and fix anything that is wrong, as do for themselves as they did for him.
'sleep don't weep
my sweet love
your face it's all wet
'cause our days were rough
so do what you must do
to fill that hole
wear another's shoe
to comfort the sole
there's times that i was broke
and you stood strong'
The song is gentle, and sung almost like a lullaby, almost saying goodbye to the listener. Also, the gentle melodies and slow tempo reflect the lyrics of sleep. It is extremely relaxing and helps one to settle after such an emotional ride in this album.
After an amazing debut album: 'O', he gave himself a tough act to follow, and has been subject to harsh criticism about this album, but I think his dedication to music being from his soul pulls him through with great results.
Some may find that it is too 'sad' or 'depressing' but I think when you have gone through these emotions yourself, and you relate to every word being sung to every note, it really makes it more than music.
Damien takes us through a journey with him. Through his soul, and this helps us find ours.
The album is fantastic in so many ways, and has really helped me, and for that, I thank him.
---DAMIEN RICE 9---
Following the phenomenal success of his first album '0' in 2002, Damien Rice astounded us yet again in 2006 with his follow up album '9'. Having waited four years for this album to appear seemed like a lifetime and in a way I was in trepidation, fearing it couldn't possibly live up his breathtakingly beautiful album '0'.
Damien Rice is an Irish folk singer from County Kildare, Ireland. His poetical lyrics and troubadour style have earned him his own unique niche in the music world. After only one album he is already a force to be reckoned with, with his dedication and commitment to his music, he is considered a lyrical genius, and a poet of our time.-
--- 9 by Damien Rice---
I received 9 as a Birthday gift; it was all that I had been on about since I learned of its release. I already owned '0' and found each and every track truly stunning. There wasn't a weak track within the whole album and I found the beauty of the melodies and lyrics deeply profound. I didn't want '9' to fall short and I certainly didn't want to compare the two. I was hoping '9' would stand on its own as yet another unique and individual musical masterpiece from this great singer/songwriter. '9 Crimes' is 9 individual parts of a story each containing a crime against love. -
---9 Crimes by Damien Rice--- (contains explicit Lyrics throughout).
The album opens with '9 Crimes'. It is a gentle, haunting, deeply moving song of infidelity. The track starts with slow, quiet, mournful notes on the piano, accompanied by the ethereal voice of Lisa Hannigan singing softly with plaintive vocals. "Is that alright babe?"Rice comes in to join her, and his voice is barely audible with emotional breaks in it as he quietly asks. "Give my gun away when it is loaded, is that alright babe?" This is almost a round, as they ask each other the same question over and over, cutting in vocally one over the other. Rice's voice dueting perfectly with Lisa's as the vocals meld and intertwine with ease. As the emotion peaks in his vocals the beautiful strings of the cello steal slowly in, then build and swell, and cascade, as the song winds down to a whisper and fades out to the mournful minimalist notes of the piano with nothing resolved.-
---The Animals Were Gone---
This is a stunning song rich in metaphor. The 'animals' representing his happiness, and his other senses and feelings; 'the house is empty'. Meaning there is nothing inside him, he is an empty shell of a man. The track opens to the gentle, slow strumming of the guitar using minor chords to denote his melancholy. His voice is crushed, broken and as the gentleness gives way to the chorus and the warmth of the strings come in when he sings of seeing his love that has left him, in his dreams, his memory. The violins and cello swell to a wonderful cloak of warmth that wraps Rice's voice in pure beauty as the happy chorus tells that in dreams they are together. It is a simple and beautiful tune, with the great lines: "I love your depression and I love your double chin". "I love most everything that you bring to this offering"- The music increases in volume to a fantastic symphony of sound as the strings warp and clash and bring a brilliant magical quality to the closing of this song.-
Elephant is such a private track. Rice is so introspective on this one, that as a listener you feel you are intruding upon a very painful moment that really shouldn't be shared. He is delicate and sad. The track is incredibly drawn out accompanied by his slow gentle guitar strumming. The vocals are hushed and broken with emotion. Originally entitled 'The Blowers Daughter -Part 11, he sings of being with someone else to try and get over his great love, and he asks "Do you still forget the breeze?" - Another line that is quite poignant is: "You can't paint an elephant... quite as good as she". His songs contain much metaphor and it isn't hard to figure out what it means. His vocals increase in strength towards the end and the drums come crashing in as Rice transcends into a little rock vocalisation which actually sounds pretty good, then it goes quiet again and the song closes. -
Well if there is one track that will stick in my mind forever, it is this one. Accompanied by gentle piano, 'Accidental babies' has to be one of the most breathtaking tracks ever. The poignancy in the track is heartbreaking and beautiful and the lyrics will rip your heart out. Every word is a study in heartbreak and every chord on the piano will fill you with emotion. Here Rice sings of comparison. He directs this at his lost love who had found another man. With questions you really shouldn't ask: "Does he drive you wild or just mildy free?" "Is he bold enough to take you on"?..."What about me"? And it is sung in the quietest, resigned tone, it's one last shot really and he is going for it. It is honest, raw, pure emotion and it is stunningly conveyed by Rice. "So feel free...Leave him for me!"? He is a broken man and his hurt and anguish is painfully clear in his voice. "Is he dark enough to see your light"? "Do you come together with him"?..."What about me"? "If not...What about me"? - This is a song that will stay with you, it is real and full of pain and overflowing with atmosphere which is bleak and totally haunting...
This is another album of rare beauty. It's overwhelming. To listen to this all the way through you will run the gamut of emotions from despair, to the depths of despair. I don't know of any other singer who evokes quite like this. Yet the mood is not depressing. It is uplifting, in a strange way; it draws the emotions out to an extent that you are filled with raw, honest feeling. The kind of emotions that we normally keep well hidden. His music heightens your senses. It makes your hairs stand on end. Each track from the 9 album is full of truth. Beautifully conveyed by Rice, with the added magnificance of the amazing cello and violin work. As ever, the angelic voice of Lisa Hannigan lends calm and complimenting vocals to the lonely, broken quality of the vocals of Rice.
It's not often we release our feelings and unless it is to poetry or song I think it is a very rare moment that we can experience this. I think Damien Rice proved this very fact in the film 'Closer' when people heard 'The Blowers Daughter'. It had a profound effect upon them. Well I have to say that I feel 'Accidental Babies' is a better song. This is another truly great album from Damien Rice, and if I have to wait another four years to hear an album as equal in brilliance to this; I can honestly say: "I don't mind the wait". -
Thank you for reading
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 9 Crimes
2 The Animals Were Gone
4 Rootless Tree
6 Coconut Skins
7 Me, my yoke and I
8 Grey Room
9 Accidental Babies
10 Sleep, Dont Weep