, the sleeper hit album of 2003, throw dissonant string crescendos and ruptured production into the mix. Live, in a more stripped-down, acoustic style, Rice's compelling intensity and throaty melodics make up for the album's lack of ambition in the arrangements. He'll bring you down in style.
Damien Rice may be the feel-baddest balladeer to find a wide audience since Volkswagen revived Nick Drake. Like his countryman David Gray, Rice specializes in putting the cold, wet feeling of Irish winter onto two-inch tape and has a similar, if more astringent, vocal style. But Rice's music is a stranger brew -- at times, his songs have the startling directness of Elliott Smith, and when he gets out of the coffeehouse and into weirder musical back alleyways, he grabs hold of a sound genuinely beautiful and new. The best songs on