Sound — 10
I was absolutely thrilled to hear Damien Rice was coming out with a new CD. I thought O was the sleeper hit of 2002, and was probably my favorite album of that year. 9 did not disappoint. From the first soft piano chords of the track, 9 Crimes, I was absolutely smitten. His backup vocal partner, Lisa Hannigan is once again in top form. The album takes you on an emotional roller coaster as only Damien can. The album is pretty standard fare for Damien, but that is not a bad thing. It is a nice, mellow outing, with some exceptions (Elephant comes to mind) right up until "Me, my yoke, and I", the 7th track, which explodes into sonic mayhem midway through. Overall, it delivers exactly what I had hoped, and so much more. This is bound to be the "breakup album" of the year.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics of 9 are a study in songwriting perfection. I simply cannot listen to this album without a tear in my eye. From "Leave me out with the waste/this is not what I do" on 9 Crimes, right through to "My face is all wet/'cause my day was rough" on the lullabye-esque Sleep Don't Weep. I cannot get sick of his imagery, or his wonderful lilting tenor. He earns the "explicit lyrics" sticker for such gems as "F--k you, f--k you, f--k you, and all we been through" on Rootless Tree, and earns my award as a lyrical genius for things like "Do you brush your teeth before you kiss?/Do you miss my smell?" (Accidental Babies). Lisa Hannigan's breathy backup and counterpoint is a dreamy and perfect addition.
Overall Impression — 10
I don't feel you can compare Damien Rice with anyone, but if you put him and some of Bright Eyes' mellower, acoustic material, you have got yourself one hell of a "quiet night alone with your girl" compilation. My personal favorite tracks? 9 Crimes is the best, but I also love rootless tree, Accidental Babies, and Me, My Yoke, And I. If you haven't heard it yet, do yourself a favor and buy it.