Damien Rice – B Sides

Like a more talented and credible David Gray, but without the wobbly head, Damien Rice’s debut album “O” (originally released in 2002) has now achieved platinum sales status in the UK. In America, a country notoriously difficult to crack, he was awarded the prestigious 2003 Shortlist Music Prize.

“B Sides” is a kind of stop-gap until Damien finishes his follow up album due for release next year. Opening with “The Professor & La Fille Danse” which was recorded live at Cornucopia Café in Dublin in 2001, this track is very folk influenced, slow and unfussy. There’s a spot of dark humour in the lyrics about the death of a relationship, although the line “closer to god than the one that I loved” is a sobering thought. Full of subtle nuances Damien’s unexpected burst of French is a delight, his grasp of the romantic language gives the songs individuality. “Woman Like A Man” is another live song, this time for Galway Bay FM. It features additional vocals, the wonderfully talented Lisa Hannigan, who’s not unlike a Gaelic PJ Harvey. The vocals are very expressive with some strong language (hence the parental advisory explicit lyrics sticker). Unsettling, original and striking, this track contains bitter lyrics, the cello playing of Nickie Geddes and overall it’s a superb recording from the studio sessions.

“Moody Mooday” has high pitched vocals with the refrain “why did you have to leave”. It’s sad, but never depressing, with Rice and Hannigan’s vocals working their magic yet again. As is often the case with Damien Rice, it’s emotionally charged, very moving and with unusual instrumentation. The instrumental version of “Cannonball” works well in it’s own right as a musical piece. Featuring guitar, cello and drums this is quietly quirky, classical and strums along pleasantly.

“B Sides” may only be 8 tracks long, but he invests so much heart and soul into the creation of the songs that quality far outweighs the quantity in this case. All I can say now is the anticipation for this next album is stronger than ever.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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