O

O

4.6 37
by Damien Rice
     
 

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Like Welsh singer-songwriter David Gray, Ireland's Damien Rice has a knack for weaving folk rock that's craftily compelling -- the kind of songs that slither into the subconscious rather than hit the listener over the head with immediate contagion. On this graceful debut, Rice exhibits both a soaring voice, with traces of See more details below

Overview

Like Welsh singer-songwriter David Gray, Ireland's Damien Rice has a knack for weaving folk rock that's craftily compelling -- the kind of songs that slither into the subconscious rather than hit the listener over the head with immediate contagion. On this graceful debut, Rice exhibits both a soaring voice, with traces of Jeff Buckley in its aching delivery, and a winsome romanticism that reaches its peak on the simmering "Volcano" and the wistful "I Remember." The disc is, by and large, stripped down, with Rice accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, but there are shadings that elevate the songs beyond mere strum-along fare. Singer Lisa Hannigan, who joins Rice on roughly half the tracks, is first and foremost among them, her languid, Chan Marshall–styled vocals providing a nice counterpoint to Rice's often theatrical take on things. On the ruminative "Coldwater," Rice tucks his performance between the folds of an eerie neo-Gregorian chant, which has much the same effect. O has its share of overly precious moments -- chiefly the epic closer, "Eskimo" -- but beneath the art, it's clear that Rice's heart beats with the purity of a man on a mission.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Charles Spano
Magnificently packaged in a CD-sized hardcover book filled with personal artwork, lyrics, and photos, Damien Rice's debut full-length, O, is nothing less than a work of genius, a perfect cross between Ryan Adams and David Gray and a true contender for one of the best albums of 2003. This Irish singer/songwriter works with impassioned folk songs that move from stripped-down to grandly orchestrated in a heartbeat. The production is reminiscent of Songs of Leonard Cohen -- simple guitars, vocals, and then those swelling strings, all of which sound like they were recorded right in the same room. Rice is master of what critic
anter Richard Meltzer called "the unknown tongue" -- basically the musical equivalent of the "punctum" in photos, it's that thing that grabs a hold of you, the detail that makes it happen. For example, on "Delicate" the strings lift the spare folk song to the heavens at just the moment that makes the song soar -- Meltzer might call it the "folk tongue" or maybe even the "epic tongue." The magnificent, melancholy, optimistic, longing, almost magical "The Blower's Daughter" comes in immediately as the previous song, "Volcano," ends -- same thing with the song that follows -- which gives the album a broad, operatic quality. The gentle "Cannonball," the bright strumming and surreal feedback on "Amie," the distant piano and oceanic harmonies (not to mention drowning, backwards vocals) on the duet, "Cold Water" -- the entire record makes the empty highway less lonely, the sunshine a little warmer, and life a little more poetic. Then there's the actual opera singer doing backup vocal duties on "Eskimo" -- a song of redemption that is Syd Barrett, is Skip Spence, is Grandaddy and is Mercury Rev and everything that implies. What a metaphor for Rice's entire hopelessly beautiful record -- one long angelic hymn for an insane world with the intimacy of a friend playing guitar in your living room and the grandeur of Sigur Rós.
Rolling Stone - Anthony DeCurtis
For all their quietness, [the songs] leave a dark, lasting impression.
Entertainment Weekly - Catherine Wise
[An] evocative debut. (A)
Blender - Everett True
[Rice's] forlorn, string-saturated songs have a real emotional poignancy, which can turn self-pitying, and aren't afraid to touch on the Big Topics in a Big Way.

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Product Details

Release Date:
06/10/2003
Label:
Vector Records
UPC:
0093624850724
catalogNumber:
48507
Rank:
1938

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Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Damien Rice   Primary Artist,Bass,Clarinet,Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Drums,Vocals
Nicholas Dodd   Conductor
Mark Kelly   Electric Guitar
Tomo   Percussion,Drums
Shane Fitzsimons   Bass
Caz   Djembe
Colm Mac Con Iomaire   Violin
Vyvienne Long   Cello
Jean Meunier   Piano,Improvisation

Technical Credits

Nicholas Dodd   Orchestration
David Arnold   Producer,String Arrangements
Steve Orchard   Engineer
Lisa   Paintings,Drawing
Damien Rice   Composer,Producer,Engineer,Paintings,Drawing
Kristiina Aittokallio   translation
Melissa Ni Chionnaith   Cover Design
Karl Toomey   Artwork

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