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Damien Rice 9




Every now and then an album comes along that seems to have discovered the secret passageway to your soul. Damien Rice’s exquisite 2003 debut, O, was one of those albums, and so is this follow-up, 9, which, with its transcendent beauty and cathartic emotion, easily ranks as one of the best discs of the year. As with O, the power of 9 creeps up on you until, before you know it, you are completely absorbed. The first voice you hear isn’t actually that of this Irish singer-songwriter, but the ethereal presence of O key player Lisa Hannigan, who once again takes the prize for Best Supporting Vocalist. Rice also continues to make evocative use of Vyvienne Long’s cello in these artful arrangements, but rocks harder on charged-up cuts like “Rootless Tree.” Through it all, though, his lyrics remain pensive and poignant. On “The Animals Were Gone,” a breakup song that will break your heart, Rice is haunted by all that he has lost: “Waking up without you is like drinking from an empty cup.”

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