Something as powerful and emotionally taxing as Damien Rice’s first new material in eight years shouldn’t be something that you can access via Spotify. It just feels wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Spotify. It is one of the only unnecessary bills I pay monthly. But Rice’s single “I Don’t Want to Change You” is something I should have to drive to a record store to procure before heading home and feeling sad and melancholy upon listening.
The upcoming album, titled My Favourite Faded Fantasy, is Rice’s first album since 9 back in 2006. In the time since, Rice disbanded his professional and personal relationship with Lisa Hannigan, the vocalist who brought additional depth to Rice’s songwriting with her vocal prowess. Whereas Rice’s vocals were sometimes harsh and sharp-edged, Hannigan’s soft vocals helped bring a balance.
My Favourite Faded Fantasy, available Nov. 1, has no Hannigan, but Rice brought on famed producer Rick Rubin, who has helped many a famed musician release their best work.
Rice was approached by his record label and asked if he was interested in putting out any new work. “Yeah, but I think I need help, someone who can inspire me to be better,” said Rice to The Evening Standard. “I said the only person who came to mind was Rick Rubin. But I knew very little about him. All I knew is that he meditated, he had a big beard and that some people called him a guru.”
Much of Rice’s work on this album no doubt has to do with the severance of his relationship with Hannigan, something that he has publicly expressed regret about on a number of occasions. “I would give away all the music success, all the songs, and the whole experience to still have Lisa in my life,” Rice once said.
Both of the songs that are currently available sound like they could be written with Hannigan in mind. “I Don’t Want To Change You” as well as the title track “My Favourite Faded Fantasy” have that love letter to someone who doesn’t love you anymore feel.
Rice’s signature of starting a song out slowly and building up to a loud crescendo continues on his newest effort. Rubin definitely added a bit of tinkering around but as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and Rubin seems to let Rice do what he does best. Perhaps Rubin was most important in helping Rice overcome some of the personal difficulties that arose with recording this album without Hannigan, who served as sort of a muse.
Though Hannigan’s sweet and subtle vocals are deeply missed on this album, Rice’s latest release can still figure to be one of 2014’s best albums.
Rice will play an intimate show in Los Angeles on Oct. 9 at the Cathedral Immanuel. Tickets sold-out in minutes and are currently going for ridiculous prices on the secondary market.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Here’s a teaser of the forthcoming video for “I Don’t Want to Change You”.
And of course, the Damien Rice song we will forever love (The Blower’s Daughter):
Damien Rice’s new album, My Favourite Faded Fantasy, is set for release Nov. 11th.