After eight years away Damien Rice is back with album number three, and it’s been more than worth the wait
t’s been 12 years since the former songwriter of the Irish indie-rock band Juniper released his debut album O, and eight years since his follow-up 9. Now Damien Rice returns with his first new music since the advent of Spotify – album number three My Favourite Faded Fantasy.
After such a passing of time it’s natural to wonder just what’s happened to Damien Rice’s music. The worry, of course, is that a near decade between recordings has dimmed his skill as a writer, but the opener and title track quickly puts paid to any such fears. A delicate and emotive track that’s a little more indie than it is folk, My Favourite Faded Fantasy follows the approach that’s seen Rhodes become such a well considered artist, while retaining Rice’s affection for tastefully placed orchestration. This pushing of indie ahead of folk is seen too in the beautiful closer Long Long Way.
In between those two songs there is both surprise and familiarity. Coming in at over nine and a half minutes, It Takes A Lot To Know A Man is classic Rice in its cutting clarity and self-awareness. However, by pushing the folk template into near post-rock length, he makes a brave call for artistic experimentation and wins. Tracks though like the acerbic The Greatest Bastard and gorgeous Colour Me In, will please those fans who’ve followed him since the release of his 2001 debut single The Blowers Daughter.
What’s apparent throughout My Favourite Faded Fantasy is that Rice has used his time away to grow and develop as a writer. Having left a mass of fans waiting for a new release, it would have been easy enough for him to stick steadfast to the formula that drew such success. But, with two tracks pushing the ten minute mark – the touching Trusty And True climbing to just over eight minutes – and the desire to mix new ideas with those that you enjoyed nearly a decade ago, Rice cements himself as a writer of skill and courage.
My Favourite Faded Fantasy is both a very modern and innately classic indie-folk record, one that gives new life to Damien Rice’s music and reminds you of the reasons you enjoyed his songs first time round.
Verdict: Indie-folk that’s bravely different and gratefully true to itself