Damien Rice: 9 

Anyone who's ever had a broken heart can sympathize with Damien Rice in his exquisitely written album, 9. As I listened to 9, the haunting vocals kept me frozen on the spot. I found the songs addicting. Rice runs the gamut of human emotions with sweet melodies and emotional vocals that exude despair, oftentimes starting in a soft whisper and then culminating in throaty screams. The dramatic, yet simple, piano lines are infectiously pleasing in the opening song, "9 Crimes." Combined with sensual vocals from Lisa Hannigan, the song relates the tormented relationship between two lovers, subtly alluding to more than just the crime of cheating: "Give my gun away, when it's loaded/you don't shoot it, how am I supposed to hold it." The song "Dogs" tells a tale of relative happiness amid a sea of anguish. Fanciful lyrics--"Oh she's always dressed in white/she's like an angel and she burns my eyes. Oh and she moves like a little girl/I become a child and she moves my world"--transported me back to a simpler time in life, reminding me of playing as a kid.

However, 9 is not an album for the faint of heart. The addictive song "Coconut Skins" has an upbeat tune and surprisingly risque lyrics such as "You can lie between her legs and go looking for/tell her you're searching for her soul," which are an example of how Rice can draw you into his desolate world. In "Me Yoke and I," a vehemence coupled with the electric guitars, releases intense emotion full of sexual undertones. It is not a "family friendly" song. If you need an emotional release, 9 may be just the tonic. Just be careful you don't fall too far under Rice's spell.

--Julie Gunderson

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