The solo career of Mr Rice is not one you may realistically describe as that with which you may associate a prolific output. His is not throwaway pop churned out at will to capture a particular sound of the moment. His is a more measured, considered, matured blend of music not affected by whim or fad, not afflicted by need or hankering. Damien Rice comes like malted whiskey at timely intervals after ageing quietly until ready.
In the twelve years since the release of Rice's huge debut album 'O' back in February 2002, Damien has collaborated with everyone from David Gray, Lamb and David Hopkins through to a duet with Tori Amos extolling the virtues of 'Orange Knickers'. On a personal level, though, in the interim years there has only ever been one other studio album, 2006's '9'. 'My Favourite Faded Fantasy' serves to end the lauded Irishman's time in the musical wilderness and put him well and truly back into the public eye.
The title track gently ushers in Damien Rice's new album with the delicacy and tenderness of a man capable of writing the most sensitive of lovelorn songs. The initial fragility in Rice's voice is at times so brittle but it balances as he breaks into the build with a warmth and passion that mirrors the sentiment of the song: "You could be my poison, my cross, my razor blade. I could love you more than life if I wasn't so afraid." The first single to be taken from the album, 'I Don't Want To Change You' is similarly affecting, although the chorus does veer dangerously close to a pastiche of James Blunt.
The more stripped back turmoil and relationship tatters of 'The Greatest B*****d', 'Colour Me In' and despair of 'The Box' are Damien Rice with his heart on his sleeve, struggling with his mixed up feelings of loss, love and regret. "Well I could be wild and free, well God forbid then you might envy me", Rice sings out with full and empowered, somewhat cynical, sentiment on 'The Box'. It's not only Rice's lyrics that cut through on 'My Favourite Faded Fantasy'. There are some quite spectacular string arrangements and beautiful piano scores throughout the eight track album. 'It Takes A Lot To Know A Woman', 'I Don't Want To Change You' and vocally accompanied 'Trusty And True' being stand-out examples.
'My Favourite Faded Fantasy' delivers exactly what you'd expect from a Damien Rice album. Its songs are all well written, impassioned songs of love and relationships. The arrangements are well thought out, very considered sets and the production perfectly compliments the mood and atmosphere of the album. It does what it says on the tin if you will, and therein lies my only problem with it. 'MFFF' could just as easily have been delivered the year after Damien Rice's first album as twelve years after, but then, I guess if you like rice, why would you buy noodles?