Cracking the commercial veneer


By Claudi Moll


Image of Damien Rice found on

The 38-year old Irish troubadour, Damien Rice, first caught the world’s attention when his single ‘The Blower’s Daughter‘ appeared in 2004 film, Closer. Critics have compared him to the musical likes of Jeff Buckley, but this singer-songwriter brings much needed depth into an industry which has become obsessed with commercial success.
After splitting up with his first band, Juniper, Rice was weary of re-entering the music industry and subsequently travelled, lived and worked all over Europe. Upon his arrival back in Britain, however, his desire to create music, immediately took hold of him and he proceeded to create a mobile studio in his own home.
This gave Rice the artistic freedom which he so desperately longed for and the end result is a dynamic, album which creates a unique musical tapestry by combining the different threads of folk, rock, acoustic, jazz and light classical music.
It may be considered too downbeat, low-key or just plainly depressing, for the average listener, but Rice creates a lush, emotional landscape which absolutely absorbs the listener from track one. Although Rice’s deeply mature lyrics cuts right through to the bone, there is something very uplifting about this emotional catharsis.
A surprising feature of this album is the variety of instruments. Whereas most singer-songwriter albums tends to sound monotonous, Rice creates variety with the vast array of instruments he uses, such as the jazzy atmosphere which Rice created with ‘Cheers Darlin” by implementing the baby djembe and clarinet. Or in ‘Eskimo‘ which includes an impressive orchestral interlude accompanied by a Finnish opera solo by Doreen Cunner.
In regards to vocals, not only does Rice have an impressive range, ranging from pleading whispers in ‘Amie‘ to almost maniacal shouting in ‘The Professor and La Fille Danse’, he also employs other vocals on the record especially that of Lisa Hannigan’s. They perform two duets on ‘I remember’ and ‘Cold Water’ and her airy almost fragile voice is the prefect accompaniment to Rice’s.
In an interview, Rice mentioned that he wanted to share his music in the truest possible way, with the most integrity and the most beauty and the most honesty. Regardless of your preferred genre, Rice’s stream-of-consciousness manner in which he communicates his music in addition to the way he carefully constructed each aspect of the album is sure to instil a deep appreciation and enjoyment for his work.

Damien Rice performing Delicate with Lisa Hannigan and cellist Vyvienne Long during their AOL Sessions


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