Critical Voices: Damien Rice, My Favorite Faded Fantasy

November 12, 2014

“I have an allergic reaction to expectations,” said Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice, in a video for the music blog The Line of Best Fit.  After quietly fading out of the public eye nearly seven years ago, Rice returns with his new album, My Favourite Faded Fantasy. 

For Rice, the making of music is honest, and it is from this honesty that the intrinsic value of his music emerges. It’s something we are all free to experience differently. However different our personal experience with the album may be, there is an intractable intimacy to My Favourite Faded Fantasy.

This intimacy starts with the album opener and title-track, “My Favourite Faded Fantasy.” It is a song both raw and wrought with nostalgia. This retrospective theme is carried through the album on Rice’s powerful lyrics, returning in nuanced ways in songs like “I Don’t Want to Change You” and “Colour Me In.”

Over the course of 50 minutes and eight songs, Rice takes his listeners to the cool dark spaces where careful dreams and circumspect imaginings can take hold. In these introspective spaces, light and dark converse with eddies of piano, violin, and guitar, all twining around Rice’s lulling voice.

On “The Greatest Bastard,” Rice’s voice softly describes a predictable lost romance in his unique way with the simple accompaniment of an acoustic guitar. As the emotional tale gains momentum, the instrumentation swells to match the emphatic crescendo of the passionate lyrics. The violin and piano eventually overtake the vocals, vehemently expressing the weight of this personal story.

Rice’s style has not changed much from his previous albums, but that’s not to say this album is in any way disappointing. It’s simply a broadening of an already beautiful repertoire of songs written and performed by the Irish musician.

For those of us who had high expectations, the album won’t disappoint. On My Favourite Faded Fantasy, Rice paints dark, cool spaces, imparting not only his fantasy, but a collective nostalgia for all to share.

Voice’s Choices: “My  Favorite Faded Fantasy,”  “The Greatest Bastard”


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