Friday, 7 November 2014

Lovesong: Damien Rice: I Don't Want to Change You

'It was like learning how to walk again, a little bit like going for a walk in the woods without really knowing where you're going"'

I like a sad song.
I was taken by the heartache of Damien Rice's debut 'O'.
It seemed like a genuine outpouring, coming on both sanguine and sad, it was beautifully restrained and contained, with Lisa Hannigan providing a detached and wonderfully calming foil for the injured party's malaise.
The follow up '9' ploughed a similar furrow but, Christ, did it burrow deep.... It was all so bleatingly bleak; 'Do you miss my smell"? etc. Too much blood from the same vein; what was once affecting and winning was effectively becoming a whine.
And now, after an 8 year hiatus comes 'My Favourite Faded Fantasy', his long awaited follow up and... Damien's still not a happy chappy - “You could be my poison, my cross, my razor blade/ I could love you more than life if I wasn’t so afraid.” - but this is a misery that loves company.
Sure, there's angst akimbo but there's now a keening subtlety to the drama; a haunting beauty to the melancholy that is engaging: truly captivating.
Here's Rice talking about his creative process:

Recorded in icy detachment at Sigur Ros's studio in Iceland, Rik Rubin's production is lush and lean; subtly expansive, allowing Rice to exhail. He's given the time and space to be genuinely sorrowful. The orchestrations and extended fades are a sign that airplay is the last thing on his mind.
As you can see from the video below, Damien won't be getting the next Coke or John Lewis ad, but this is sterlingly strong, engrossing, engaging, fractured, fucked up and full of hope.
It's all quite lovely.
Not so much a come back as a recovery...


  1. "Faded Fantasy" not released here across the pond for a few more days, but the full album is posted on YouTube, so I've given it a proper listen. This is a surprisingly sweet return to form! I have to be perfectly honest... Rice's last album "9" left such a bad taste in my mouth that I probably would've given any new release a skip. How can you forgive cliche lyrics like "Well I know you I make you cry / And I know sometimes you wanna die" or how about horribly laughable stuff like "I am horny lately / So why would she take me horny?" or the lovely chorus that goes "F*ck you, F*ck you, F*ck you..." or your own personal fave... "Do you brush your teeth before you kiss? / Do you miss my smell?" All sung with utter earnestness, not a trace of irony or humor. The whole album seemed like a whiny vanity exercise to my ears. After 8 years passing I truly believed it was all over "one hit wonder" Mr. Rice.

    Just goes to show that no one is irredeemable. 'Faded Fantasy' may not have the element of mystery & boldness of production that the debut "0" possessed, lyrics being much more transparent here, and lacks Lisa H's angelic vocals... But Damien's vocals have never sounded better (toning down the falsetto whine). Still the occasional awkward lyric, but words appear to be more carefully chosen, nothing cringe-worthy. Unlike the last record, I can connect with the humble heartbreak & melancholy here, no doubt inspired by his thorny split with Lisa. There are goose-bump moments in the lyrics/music, and Rubin's production is just right. Strings all over the place, and you know I'm a sucker for strings!

    Thanks Trev for bringing this to my attention. I'm sure I would have bypassed this one. I'll be down to HMV to pick it up when released. Now I'll have to squeeze this one into my "Top 10 of 2014"... Got your list compiled?

    1. Ay, still sum lumpy lyrics but sung with enough conviction to convince. Rubin does seem to have restrained the 'just tell 'em how you feel' vibe that abounded on '9' and made it seem more like the counseling coach rather than listening post. Working on my list; looking forward to you sharing yours. How's Mrs TT doing?

  2. Funny, I too was going to mention that perhaps big, scary old Rick Rubin might have done some wrist-slapping in the studio to prevent DR from putting his foot in his mouth too often...

  3. Here is a 'slightly' less serious take on this album, but I found it funny..