You need Damien Rice’s debut album, O, more than you really need to read this review. I have connected to this album more than a person should. So, to review: go get O; get it now and get it fast.Rice combines super-quiet folk with brutal, powerful crescendos to create an album full of power and sincerity. O shows how you can make an amazingly lush record with only an eight track recorder. He needs to be followed the way Dylan is followed.
The reason why the album is so good is because he’s an Irish tenor. Just like Paddy Casey and David Gray (that is A Century Ends David Gray, not White Ladder David). He has the Irish accent that makes the music just seem more brutal, honest, and real. I have never heard an artist sound more real than Rice. I feel the pain in “Cheers Darlin'” and I feel the quiet joy and anticipation in “Delicate.” He makes you feel how he feels.
O starts off with the ultra-quiet “Delicate,” a song full of possibilities: “we might kiss… we might make out… we might make love.” But the song ends sadly in a gorgeous crescendo with Rice singing “why’d you sing Hallelujah/ if it meant nothing to ya/ why’d you sing with me at all?”
Track two takes the album up a notch with “Volcano.” This song utilizes two of the greatest things that Rice has discovered: the cello of Vyvienne Long and the amazing voice of Lisa Hannigan. Where Rice’s voice is powerful and sweet, Hannigan’s is sweet and sad.
I really wish I could tell you the highlights of the album, but I don’t have the space to write about every song. With that said, you really need to hear “The Blower’s Daughter;” it was the first single in Ireland. Rice crushes your heart by repeating “I can’t take my eyes off of you.”
But don’t think that the album is all love and happiness. “I Remember” starts sweet, with Hannigan remembering a relationship. At the 2:19 mark the song shifts and Rice tells his memories of a relationship, and let me tell you it is fueled with pain, which finally explodes into screaming and distorted guitars.
The album closes with a surprise: “Eskimo.” I will not tell you about this track because it needs to be a surprise. When it explodes into another form of music at 3:22 the song no longer is folk but something bigger than folk. The song becomes bigger than you and me. It is pure and simple bliss.
Please, for your sanity and mine, go get O. You need it like oxygen.