November 22, 2014
Review by Corey Galvin
My Favorite Faded Fantasy – Damien Rice
I thought Damien Rice was retired and hiding out in some cabin in Ireland for the rest of his life before I heard he was releasing his new album My Favorite Faded Fantasy. It was 2006 when he last released an album and it was 2008 when he last played a live show. Led Zeppelin and N’Sync played more shows than him in the last 6 years. After a break up with fellow songwriter Lisa Hannigan, Rice fell off the map. In his return, however, he makes a statement. In this new LP, he returns with the most heart-breaking album since Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago.
Rice shows off his great voice right from the gate in his falsetto, jumping from staccato to long seductive notes. “My Favorite Faded Fantasy,” the title track, is starts off as a melancholic duo between Rice and a guitar and slowly progresses as the band chimes in to add to the atmosphere and slowly leads to Rice screaming “I’ve never loved!” The drums and guitar and do their job as they build up to an intense ending that leaves the listener know that Damien Rice is back and frustrated more than ever. The frustration piles over into “It Takes a Lot to Know a Man,” the album’s best composition. Topping in at nine and a half minutes, it brings out as many emotions as possible. The beginning makes you feel as if you are at a funeral withe menacing piano and then the melody and tone of Rice’s voice is wistful. The strings don’t help either. You become scared as Rice starts to ask his past lover, “What are you so afraid of? You become terrified as the whispers and many different voice layers combine together producing a schizophrenic and sinister feel. Then it all stops giving way to the sound of water splattering. The listener is in a dark, dark place right now but there is no leaving. The piano and strings beautifully hook up back into the rolling ominous feel. At the end, it makes me feel like I’ve just listened to something out of a horror musical. This is something we’ve never seen from Rice, but it is brilliant. This probably what the album should have ended with, closing it out in complete agony, but don’t worry there is plenty left in the remaining six songs. “The Greatest Bastard” starts off with a happy guitar and we get to hear some major key, something we deserve after the first two tracks. However, this is short lived as Rice’s voice comes in and it sounds like he’ll break down and cry by the time the verse ends. The shaky, watery voice breaks into a theatrical yet soul-wrenching chorus as the strings come in at the exact right time and leaves you in chills. The three best songs come first, but the songs move together, keeping you in listening despite the moody feel that encompasses the rest of the album. Each song seems to break into an epic portion with lots of strings and preaching vocals, which sort of gets old after a while, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t get goosebumps every time it happened. The album throws in some bouts of feelings of innocence, especially in “Long Long Way” and “Colour Me In,” as you get lyrics that say “Come let me love you” and the closing to the album which sounds like a child learning to play the clarinet, slowly, silently, and choppy. That’s how Rice wants to see himself now, innocent and unaffected by love, but as the final words echo in the background for over three minutes, “It’s not enough,” it shows that it haunts Rice and forever will.
In this we feel the heartbreak and torment that Rice has experienced over his hiatus and we realize why it took him eight years to come out with any new music. This comeback album is as soul-wrenching as it gets, but it is Damien Rice showing off his great story-telling and song-writing at its best.