Damien Rice - Rootless Tree

Bruce Turnbull 26/01/2007

Rating: 3/5

Damien Rice certainly has time on his side. A full two year period of practical inactivity - aside from his “Unplayed Piano” duet with Lisa Hannigan in support of the Free Aung San Suu Kyi 60th Birthday Campaign in 2005 - and without pretence towards futility, he releases “9”, a mere mirror image of his resplendent “O” opus, and everyone and his mother welcomes him back into their arms lovingly as if a lost sibling. Obviously this is troubled man who deserves our attention, but surely more reflection should be considered before garnering “9” with the contemporary classic tag. First single in support of the aforementioned album is “Rootless Tree”, which fortunately for this writer, is a rather beautiful and introspective slice of agony in acoustics.

Bleeding arpeggios fall from tired wrists as Rice traps us in his world of brutal honesty and prevailing hope. In the subtle, well crafted melodies and underpinning emotion driving the tracks, its easy to see why Rice has sold over 2 million copies world wide and spent 75 weeks in the UK album chart. Insight into suffering doesn't get more perceptible, and Rice's voice pains through each word, desiccated and dishevelled in his vale of extraordinary intensity.

It's not all gravy, however. The chorus palls under the chagrined vocals, and due to the heavy swing of instrumentation, I actually believed my cd was skipping on the stereo. Not as immediate as “Cannonball” or “The Blowers Daughter”, “Rootless Tree” is nevertheless a stand out track from a forest of rather inspiring yet honestly humble compositions. Rice's charm will never fade, and no matter what he does, he will sparkle in the eyes of The Telegraph and The Sunday Times, just like that independent film which Hollywood refuses to finance.

(Released 5th February)