Tuesday, May 29, 8 p.m., $29.50-$32, all-ages
Chances are, you’ve heard the music of Irish singer/songwriter Damien Rice, even if you don’t know it. “9 Crimes,” the first single from his sophomore album, 9, is ubiquitous on television, used to bolster sentimental moments on the estrogen-soaked Grey’s Anatomy and CSI on the eve of Grissom’s (temporary) departure.
Rice released his debut album, O, in 2002, and it was a commercial and critical success, with listeners responding heavily to the campfire intimacy of his acoustic guitar and vocal delivery and the emotional nakedness of his lyrics.
9, the album he’s currently touring in support of, has been generally received with slightly less enthusiasm, with complaints concerning the occasional upbeat surge in tempo and that, lyrically speaking, Rice appears less honest and open this time around.
It’s true that there’s nothing on 9 as intimate as O’s “Cheers Darlin’,” where to the occasional sound-effect clink, presumably of shot glasses, Rice gives a bitter account of his love hooking up with another guy. His halting delivery gives you the impression you’re sitting next to an angry drunk in the pub rambling to himself. But throughout 9, Rice still demonstrates that he has little patience for impatience, working up to his climaxes on his own terms and thus making them more rewarding when you finally get there. The listener is still very much attuned to every intake of breath, every click and vibration of his jaw, as if he were singing a cappella, a style he never actually gets around to. As for the complaints about Rice’s “balmier” side, I’m reminded of the Kids in the Hall satire, Brain Candy, where a notoriously brooding singer takes an anti-depression pill and loses all of his fans.