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The Mass Media

Album Review: Damien Rice, 9

Album Review: Damien Rice, 9

When I first pushed play to Damien Rice’s 9 album, the voice I heard sounded like some whispering woman and I had no idea who she was. With a background of soft piano, the first song has a quiet melodic feel and I nearly wrote it off as just another depressing song. Rice’s voice sounds more like he is talking more than singing in the traditional sense, but for him it works. “9 Crimes”, with Lasa Hannigan and Damien Rice’s voices overlapping, is reminiscent of a power ballad, but is much more respectable than most we normally think of. While a relatively short song, it is the highlight of 9.

Despite Rice’s the deadpan quality of Rice’s voice, it comes off both sincere and heartfelt. “Elephant” is pretty awkward, the music stops and goes like rush hour traffic. Immediately it becomes irritating as you can tell it is probably going to last awhile. Three and a half minutes into the awkward parade and finally it begins to sound like an actual song, this is where his voice shines, but unfortunately it goes right back to that same stop and go. “Rootless Tree” has a nice tone and is one of my favorites of the whole album-until Rice randomly cusses out of sudden anger, and though he is not screaming, it is a little abrasive. So, skip “Rootless Tree” because not only does it lack any feeling, it is definitely not a crowd pleaser.

Rice redeems himself with the tracks “Dogs” and “Coconut Skins” and the jubilant riffs of “Me, My Yoke I”, which sounds as if it came straight out of a live concert. Both noisy and cool at the same time, the acoustic vibe of 9 caries through an album that doesn’t feel overly polished or over produced like most contemporary albums.

While in the end, because of the melancholy lyrics and simplistic instrumentals, the songs begin to sound alike, 9 may not be a ten (ha, ha), there is still something to like about it. The first track “9 Crimes” is the clear winner, and the only one I was willing to repeat after the first listen. So, check out the album 9 for a cool and calm acoustic journey through the melodic, and heartfelt, world of Damien Rice.