I absolutely love Ireland’s unofficial Ambassador of Melancholy Damien Rice and his 2003 release O. There is so much beauty, longing, and sadness wrapped up into those songs. Rice has a way of constructing these haunting & languid melodies, incorporating evocative strings to have as potent of a voice as his own. And, for the record, “The Blower’s Daughter” is the best 3am song ever ever written. (Oh, Wayne Rooney likes it too)
So, recently when a friend shared five new/unreleased songs from Damien Rice, I was excited to hear some new material which might be on his sophomore album (very tentatively rumored to be called “Childish” and out in December, according to Rice at a recent concert). Details on the new album are super sketch at this point, but Q Magazine did report that the song “Cross-eyed Bear” (which Rice contributed to the Help: A Day In The Life compilation) is a taste of new material and the direction he is going for the second album. These other five tracks will also give you a sense of what’s he’s been up to.
Accidental Babies – Damien Rice
A popular and notable addition to many of his recent live shows (this version is from a June 2005 Paris show @ Le Trianon); a gut-wrenching piece about love & loss that I can’t stop listening to. This is the age-old breakup song wherein the singer wonders about everything his lover is doing with her new guy (“Do you brush your teeth before you kiss? Do you miss my smell? Do you really feel alive without me? If so, be free. If not, leave him for me – before one of us has accidental babies.”)
Toffee Pop (live) – Damien Rice
A mid-tempo number, beginning with furious acoustic guitar and a tapping foot as the sole percussion. A more playful song which I take to be about falling in love (or lust or something in between): “Lollipop licking with Lola sticking like toffee to my teeth / Wait, watch, gravitate.” This was first heard with Juniper, Damien’s earlier band with guys who are now in Bell X1.
Then Go (live) – Lisa Hannigan & Damien Rice
This is another Juniper song, this version featuring Lisa Hannigan handling the lead vocals with Rice coming in with harmonies. Haunting and somber, as her voice always is. The lyric “Did your mother have you easily?” reminds me of the Ryan Adams lyric (which I find sweet, though others would argue it is creepy): “I would have held your mother’s hand on the day that you were born.”
Sand (radio broadcast version) – Damien Rice
A simple song of happy love, of a growing conviction that you are with the right person. “My love, my life, my work, my time / I give them all to you / Your hand in mine we walk, we talk in rhyme / We go the whole night through.”
Baby Sister (radio broadcast version) – Damien Rice
Another older unreleased song, Rice addresses grittier subject matter with this ode to escaping domestic violence. “Baby sister, keep drinking / Or he’ll hit you / He’ll bleach your eyes / So be a good girl / Just for the night / And run, run…”
As a bonus, I’ve long found this hidden track from “O” to be quietly devastating, but it doesn’t fit on a Christmas mix because, well, it only shares the melody of the Christmas carol and none of the calmness, brightness or peace. The a cappella vocals are all by the lovely 24-year-old Lisa Hannigan, who accompanies Rice on many of his songs.
Silent Night – Lisa Hannigan & Damien Rice
If the above links quit working, as they have been wont to do lately, here is a temporary YouSendIt link of all the songs in a zip file here.