The album opens with “9 Crimes”. This was the only song that I allowed myself to download before receiving the album, and it must be said that the mp3 did not do this song justice. It’s a haunting and elegant piano duet between Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan that slowly builds into a chill producing tale of heartbreak and betrayal.
“The Animals Were Gone” is simpler and lower key. While the opening track had a mesmerizing quality from the beginning, the second tune begins quietly and gradually grows until it takes off on orchestral strings toward the end.
“Elephant” is apparently the sequel to “The Blower’s Daughter” from Rice’s previous album, though you can’t really tell from listening to it. While the second half of “Elephant” does feature Damien’s signature plaintive wail and a crescendo of music, it doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor.
The uncharacteristically vicious lyrics in the guitar and string driven chorus of the otherwise unobtrusive “Rootless Trees” earned the album a Parental Advisory sticker. “Dogs” is a purely acoustic affair and about as cheery as the album gets.
The upbeat and quirky “Coconut Skins” has a more traditional Irish sound, both vocally and musically, than most of Rice’s songs. “Me, My Yoke & I” has a heavier sound that at first grinds then pounds. The track is slightly reminiscent of classic PJ Harvey.
Vyvienne Long’s cello is the highlight of the pretty “Grey Room”. The song’s sound is closer to O than the previous tracks. “Accidental Babies” is a haunting narrative of lost love that features low-fi piano beneath the depth of Damien’s quivering vocals.
9 closes with “Sleep Don’t Weep”. The song begins with Damien Rice singing over a softly resonant guitar before piano, strings, and Lisa Hannigan’s honey coated voice slide in to create a fitting end for this grand album.
I was not granted permission to share an mp3 here, but I posted audio streams of “9 Crimes” in an October post and the video link earlier this month. You can also stream songs from the album at Warner Brothers and MySpace.