I said at the start of this endeavour that I fully intended to put up the occasional bonus post; either featuring a new release by a well known artist, or highlighting a little known song by a group that I’ve been aware of for a long time who I think need more recognition.
The last one of these I did (about Australian facial hair aficionados The Beards) fell into the latter camp, but this one is 100% firmly in the former.
This is I Don’t Want to Change You by Damien Rice and it is mesmerisingly gorgeous. It’s one of the songs from his 8-years-in-the-making new album My Favourite Faded Fantasy and I am over the moon that he’s back with more songs after such a long hiatus.
Now I’ve been a fan of Rice since 2003 when I first heard his debut LP – the amazing O – and played it pretty much constantly through my first summer in Edinburgh. The melancholy, introspective songwriting drove me through my first two lonely months in the city and formed a backdrop to most of my initial experiences here; not to mention my own less-than-successful attempts at writing fiction and music at the time.
Anyhow, four years went by and the follow-up album 9 came out. It also had some amazing songs on it, including the heartbreaking piano lament 9 Crimes, and I had high hopes for a third instalment……but it never came. Rice sacked his band, decamped to Iceland and became a recluse – seemingly never to write music again. It was a shame but after a while I kind of forgot he was still out there and instead simply treated him like one of those bands or musicians that burns out quickly after leaving something great behind.
So it was a total surprise when I found out that he was back on the scene and touting a new album. I’m so far removed from the grapevine these days that the record was practically out by the time I realised it was forthcoming, which actually worked in my favour as there was none of the usual “is it going to be good? Is it going to be shit? Can he repeat the same kind of thing again? Is it going to be worth X years wait etc…etc…” internal arguments that occur whenever one of your favourite artist makes a comeback.
So to cut a long story short, I loaded up My Favourite Faded Fantasy yesterday and started, apprehensively, to listen. And fuck me if it isn’t a stunning piece of work.
There’s only 8 songs on the album, but each one is absolutely lovely – harking back to the strongest parts of O with some serious soul-bearing, metal-scarring sentiment laid on top. The Greatest Bastard, Colour Me In and Trusty And True, in particular, are all incredible songs that I could have chosen to illustrate the album, but for some reason it’s this one that got the nod.
I don’t know what it is. The delicate violins that dance below the surface? The simple melody and desperately sad vocals throughout the verse or the absolutely storming, swelling chorus? Who knows, but for one reason or another, this has hit pretty much all of my “this is bloody amazing” buttons. It’s up there with Cold Water and Cannonball as one of his best offerings in my opinion – and not even the visually stunning but still a bit James Blunt-y video can detract from it.
Anyhow, I’ve waxed lyrically about this enough. Just have a listen – and then go and check out the rest of the album. Oh, and his other albums too if you haven’t already.