Around the turn of the century, you could barely walk a hundred metres without an angst-ridden singer-songwriter pouring his heart out to you, guitar in hand and voice most gravelly. A lot of them fell by the wayside on account of being absolutely terrible, whilst some, like James Blunt, became ultra-famous and was instantly installed as the punchline to a million jokes.
And then there was Damien Rice – the most talented of them all by a country mile. In a sea of fist-clenching and vocal noodling, he just seemed the most genuine; a real person with a knack for baring his soul in song whilst most of the others’ lyrics read like so much sixth form poetry.
His album O was released in 2002 and featured the peerless The Blower’s Daughter and Cannonball, the latter of which was given some awful full band makeover before it was allowed on the radio. The beauty of O was that it was sparse. A lot of the time it was just him and a guitar – there were strings, it’s true, but they were used sparingly for maximum effect. The beautiful backing vocals of long term collaborator Lisa Hannigan mixed perfectly with Rice’s heartfelt wail and helped create a masterpiece that blew every other wannabe troubadour at the time out of the water.
There have only been two more albums since then, 9 and My Favourite Faded Fantasy, but if you’re looking for quality over quantity, then you need to book a babysitter and get out to see Damien Rice this month at one of these gigs:
- Tues 9th June – Usher Hall, Edinburgh
- Thurs 11th June – Albert Hall, Manchester
- Sat 13th June – The Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London.