It has been a long eight years since Damien Rice’s last album 9 was released but he was far from being forgotten in that time and this album comes highly anticipated. My Favourite Faded Fantasy has been well worth the wait. This career gap included a break up from long term girlfriend, Lisa Hannigan, who provided vocals on all of 9.
Rice has always had a delicate balance of sentimentality and anger though and this album is a case in point of that. There is definitely more of a feel that he’s disheartened with the world and the idea of true.
The album kicks off with “My Favourite Faded Fantasy” which premiered on Zane Lowe’s show on BBC Radio 1 back in September. We get to hear his beautiful falsetto, tender and more powerful. There are also new sides of his music in this one, and it’s full of light and shade.
“It Takes A Lot to Know a Man” which is a vulnerable one, driven by percussion into a more powerful melody from its soft piano beginnings. At nearly ten minutes long, it sets up the sense of pining and confusion around love that will continue as a thread throughout the rest of the album.
The third track is “The Greatest Bastard” which thus far hasn’t failed to make me cry every time. An introspective track looking at the highs and lows of a relationship, Rice seems to be looking for where to place blame on this track and mostly settles on himself. His voice is tender and sweet on this one, suiting the soft and quite bare melody perfectly which results in a stunningly heartbreaking song.
“I Don’t Want to Change You” sounds more like the Damien Rice we know from hits like “The Blower’s Daughter” and “Cannonball”. It’s as beautiful as any other Rice song but definitely one of the less intense songs on the album. This one feels like a more relaxed song is definitely saying something. Damien Rice described the next song, “Colour Me In” as being like when “you’re scrubbing and scrubbing at a pot with soup caked onto it and eventually you give up, admitting that you’re never going to get it clean like you want it”.
An odd analogy, I’ll grant you, clarified later. It’s his moment of realising that he needed to give up on Hollywood’s ideal of meeting someone and just knowing they’re “The One”. “Colour Me In” seems like a chilled, sweet song at first but the lyrics describing how “love let me down” are anything but. The melody soars and we get swept along with his desperate pain. Similiarly,
After that emotional rollercoaster, “Trust and True” plays more like a classic Irish ballad, with the inclusion of a bodhrán and a full choir, who incidentally he has had on stage at all of his recent live shows on his mini tour for this album.
The album goes out with more of a whisper than a bang with “Long Long Way” but he’s got one stunning whisper. Soft and tender, it’s a calming way to end an album, though we are treated to his classic crescendo.