9 is the extraordinary follow-up to young Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice's critically acclaimed 2003 debut album which sold more than 2 million copies worldwide, including more than 1 million in the U.K. Touring this country and making a masterful television premiere on the Late Show with David Letterman, Rice entered the U.S. music consciousness. Considering the overwhelming response to these new songs, which Rice performed on tour this summer, 9 is set to take him even higher. Wrote Rolling Stone of 9: ''Songs that, for all their quietness, leave a dark, lasting impression.'' Newsweek: ''An out-and-out gorgeous CD, so full of undiluted, unfalsified emotions that it verges on open-heart surgery.'' The New Yorker: ''An album of understated gems.''
Not quite as endearing as his raw and seductive 2002 debut, O
, the second full-length album by Irish troubadour Damien Rice finds him taking a more slapdash approach to his lyrics and arrangements, with balmy tracks like "Rootless Tree," "Coconut Skins," and "Me, My Yoke, and I" seemingly made up and recorded on the spot. Strange then that it took so long for 9
to actually arrive, with just a handful of odd collaborations (Tori Amos, Herbie Hancock) and one promising benefit single ("Unplayed Piano") to hold fans over during the four-year delay. Nothing here quite achieves the lush poetry on display there, although Rice and his singing companion Lisa Hannigan come close with the creepy opening track "9 Crimes" and the damaged whisper-to-a-scream ballad, "Elephant." --Aidin Vaziri