WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ– It seems the allure of an artist often comes from his or her mystery while releasing material. Long gone are the days of shameless self-promotion, the type defined by an artist’s reliance on perpetually keeping their fans “in the know”. Damien Rice, with his latest released My Favorite Faded Fantasy, understands that and plays the game well.
Comprised of two members, Damien and, lover, Lisa Hannigan, the group collaborated to release some of the most heartwarming songs our generation has seen, producing powerful records like O and 9 Crimes. But as things began to get turbulent in their relationship, the dynamic of their songwriting contorted, and their relationship became incredibly unhealthy. And, like that, the two separated entirely, both from music and from seeing one another. Troubled immensely after losing his muse, Damien decided it would be in his own best interest to simply stop writing music, and it has been a painful 8 years since Rice’s last release.
It was in the middle of this past August that Rice broke that 8 year silence with the news of a new record and a single off the endeavor. Three months of tirelessly waiting since the world received word of the record, Damien Rice has released a masterpiece by the name of My Favorite Faded Fantasy and it is in strong contention to be the best album of 2014.
Advertisements were released on Youtube in brief, stocatto spurts; however, the 15 seconds it’s advertised does the material no justice. The beauty of the CD cannot be thoroughly conveyed in that manner.
To set it straight, there is truly nothing outrageous about this record; Damien didn’t redefine the way an acoustic guitar was played, nor did he develop his vocal range to any appealing extreme. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. This record is classic in both its style and approach, meaning, it doesn’t try to wow the listener; rather, it grabs them and holds them in place.
The album’s lyrical depth and execution is undoubtedly the first highlight to address as it truly defines the album in its entirety. Damien’s lyrics piece together a story that is punctuated by the power of his emotive dynamic. Without formally being a concept album, the common themes of loneliness and longing present themselves in nearly every track, noticeably seen through Rice’s most powerful phrases. “You could be my favorite place I’ve ever been. I got lost in your willingness to dream within the dream”, the line off the title track ‘My Favorite Faded Fantasy’ reminds the listener that Damien’s wants and needs reside in his lost love and that, despite his best efforts, he can’t seem to find another that will satiate him like his last.
The simplicity of his other lyrics get placed on a pedestal through the profound nature of his delivery. Line’s such as “I never meant to let you down” off ‘The Greatest Bastard’ and “I don’t want to change you” on the track ‘I Don’t Want to Change You’ deliver an immensely powerful and immediate message in less than seven words due to the raw emotion Damien provides. It’s as if he is telling the listener personally about the baggage he holds in that particular moment. With his unique style, Damien could make dirty words the prettiest you’ve heard.
The layout of the record is often under appreciated, however, in Rice’s case, this is not a fact to be swept under the rug. Stylistically, this is absolutely not a pop record as each song spans between five and nine minutes long, and, though many assume that the length of each song would simply bore the listener, this is far from the case. To put it bluntly, there is not a single song on this release one has a reason to skip. Songs ebb at the listener like the waves to the shore until they climax and crash, releasing the most sincere portion of each song. Tracks such as ‘It Takes A Lot to Know a Man’ span a notable length of nine minutes and 33 seconds long, and though, in its entirety, the song is beautiful, the listener isn’t rewarded with the pinnacle of the track until nearly four and a half minutes in. From that point forward, the remainder of the song haunts the listener with an empty and eerie instrumental break that consumes every ounce of their attention.
Only eight songs long, My Favorite Faded Fantasy is structured fairly straightforwardly, with its most listenable songs presented at the records onset and its subtle gems on the tail end of the piece. The first four blare and develop a sense of loyalty and listenership to those that hear it while the last four shock the listener into self-deliberation. Slightly more uplifting—if you can even use that word to describe this album—the latter half of the record reminds the listener that although Damien Rice is in a tough spot, he is managing: inspiring hope that, despite whatever situation one may be put into, there’s room to adapt and grow from the unfortunate.
Damien Rice’s My Favorite Faded Fantasy is without a shadow of a doubt the best acoustic release to have been put out this year. The passionate love Damien presents to his listener casts an overwhelming shadow of limerence that transcends above and beyond the many artists attempting to do the same. You want for Damien to feel right as the record plays and you are reminded of the importance of expressing your feelings towards those of whom you love. Do yourself a favor and listen to the album front to back the next time you’re faced with a long car ride and see for yourself.