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Is The New Damien Rice A ‘Faded Fantasy’? | Feature

The thoughts of a long time Rice fan!

Source: Official Album Artwork

It’s been eight years since Damien Rice’s classic album ‘9‘ came out. The album that cemented him as one of my favourite artists of all time. The album that encouraged a 16 year old me (yes, I got a copy about 4 years after it’s release) to pick up my acoustic guitar and find my singing voice. The album that gave me the confidence to put my thoughts to paper in the form of lyric which I would then sing to the world. The album that made me able to become the 20 year old singer/songwriter I am today. An album that has well and truly changed my life path for the better and will always hold a strong place in my heart.

His stunning début release ‘O‘ (2002) soon found its way into my record collection, followed by his B sides album, live recordings and all of his singles. In 2012 I forked out a large sum of money to go the The Hop Farm Festival, pretty much entirely to see Damien Rice play live. It’s safe to say that I am a huge fan. So, imagine my excitement when I finally got my hands on a copy of his brand new album for 2014, ‘My Favourite Faded Fantasy‘.

So, fast forward to my first listen of the album in its entirety. Laid on my bed, with the lights dimmed and the album on. Nothing to focus on but the music. How disappointed I was! What had once been an artist I had been so in awe of, with his raw, gritty style perfectly balanced with delicate beauty, had become an easy listening artist. I decided that maybe I had set the standard too high and was expecting too much from it. I would give it another few listens over the next few days before I passed judgement.

A few more listens later and the disappointment had only deepened. Desperately I look for things to cling to. I scrambled round looking for positive comparisons to be made with his previous work. Nothing was forthcoming. The Damien that had made such a huge impact on my life was gone. Replaced by an almost new man. I had no idea what to think.

Source: Official Facebook Page

So, a few weeks later, I revisited the album once again. Again, in a dimly lit room, with no distractions, focused on the music. The initial shock of such a change in sound had faded and I felt ready to give a proper opinion of the album. Well, I shall take my words and eat them to an extent. The children of the village will sing songs to taunt me: “Ha de ha de ha, here comes old man Mitch” (regardless of me only being 20… Kids can be so cruel)! “He passed off the new Damien Rice album as not being very good because it was such a big change from his previous work! That will teach him to hold on to the past, HA DE HA DE HA!’.”

Well, that is an unnecessarily long chant there children, but as I have just said, I agree TO AN EXTENT! I still hold hard to the fact that I prefer his previous work so much more and see it as being more raw, full of passion and full of genuine emotion. Maybe as a young man only really just taking my first steps in the big world, I felt like I could relate better to the more extreme side of emotions, the black and white. My Favourite Faded Fantasy has its moments of extremity, particularly in tracks like ‘It Takes A Lot To Know A Man‘ (placed firmly in the darkest shade of black) and ‘Colour Me In‘ (floating in the milky whiteness of happiness and love), but much of it feels grey. The huge orchestral feel of the album is impressive at first, but soon sinks into an almost easy-listening vibe.

So to sum up, is ‘My Favourite Faded Fantasy’ a good album? The answer would have to be yes. Is it a good Damien Rice album? Well… That’s a lot more subjective. There is no denying that it’s an excellently written album, but to somebody so used to the raw passion of a younger Damien Rice, it feels so different. The desire to use the word ‘Mature’ is strong, but it doesn’t feel like the correct way to describe it.

An almost new Damien Rice takes on an almost totally changed attitude with this album to make something almost completely different to his last two albums. A great album, but it’s going to take some time to get used to.

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