Noteworthy: Damien Rice

Damien Rice – 9 (Heffa):

The Irish singer's musical world vibrates between emotional train wrecks and quiet exultation. Many of the songs on this disc have a soul-baring quality that is bolstered by Rice's utter fearlessness. As on his previous CD, "O," Rice's lyrics – sometimes explicit – drill to the core of his failed relationships, which are often derailed by misunderstandings and power struggles. His plaintive voice swoops and glides among the rich textures of acoustic and electric guitars, cello, and violin with a storytelling ability second only to that of Bob Dylan. Rice's vulnerability on the quieter songs keeps the CD from veering into total nihilism. The title track, "9," with its layered sound and Irish drum, sends chills up the spine. "9" is as good, if not better, than "O." Grade: A

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