Damien Rice - B-Sides
With his impassioned tone and impressive range (not to mention his fetching mystique), Irish singer/songwriter Damien Rice generated quite a buzz when he hit these shores in 2003 with his debut, O. For those “Volcano” lovers who can’t bear to wait any longer for a new Rice album (reportedly due in early ’05), this EP will tide you over with nearly 30 minutes of pure rapture. Though “Volcano” accounts for two of the seven tracks on B-Sides, the versions here vary widely from the crowd pleaser on O. One is a fierce instrumental, highlighting the interplay of cello and guitar; the other a spare, early demo of the song that Rice, accompanied only by acoustic guitar, put on tape in 1997. The other repeat from Rice’s debut, “Delicate,” is from a New Year’s Eve show in Dublin: The electricity in the air that night is palpable on this highly charged version (again, just Rice and his guitar). B-Sides’ other four selections are superb: the spare, self-lacerating “The Professor & La Fille Danse” is a cure-all for Francophiles and Rice-ophiles; the soulful “Lonelilly,” which builds to anthemic proportions, should be a hit single; the live favorite, “Woman Like a Man,” presents Rice in a heated exchange with his duet partner Lisa Hannigan; and “Moody Mooday,” another vocal collaboration with Hannigan, is a sultry Celtic-style piece. With B-Sides this alluring, one can only imagine what Rice’s long-player will sound like.