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coverpic flag Ireland - Full Moon 125 - 12/05/06

Damien Rice
9
Warner Bros.

There are either a million unknowingly aspiring Damien Rices, or Damien Rice is one in a million breezy, prime-time drama songwriters. Deep in the fuzzy, technical drone in the conclusion of "Elephant," this snuggly, Irish, coffee shop romantic proves himself to be the latter. The typical American thing to do with an acoustic guitar these days is either pull a Jack Johnson and bathe one's self in the most atypical island grooves, or the Howie Day method of having an entry on the "One Tree Hill" soundtrack a solitary career goal. That said there's nothing morally wrong with wanting to be Dave Matthews.

Rice, however, is old and wise enough to remember the days when Thom Yorke didn't know how to make computer noises into pop music. Rice sounds like a graduate student of the British Alternative Rock Class of 1995; a celebrator of the generation that knew if you wanted to write about looking for soul you had to make the comparison of being surrounded by fake, plastic trees. He reveals this purity while escalating the verse-to-chorus balance of "Me, My Yoke, and I". Beyond the only mediocre ear sore of "Rootless Tree", Rice argues successfully that he's a brewing spirit smart enough to realize that you can't get by ambience and distortion alone-there's a where and when to using such things.

Copyright © 2006 Matthew DeMello e-mail address

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