By Damien Rice
After an oh-so-tender piano intro from Damien Rice, Lisa Hannigan has to move beyond the first phrase or two of '9 crimes' before you're convinced she's the vocalist and that Damien isn't exercising a bit of husky falsetto before getting into his own sound with built in purr-growl facility. It's one of those voices that can always zonk a good proportion of listeners just by being what it is, regardless of content, and I can't help thinking that as such it has to carry this song rather than finding real substance in it. By the time it's done cello is a noticeable presence, possibly a further indicator the piece wouldn't stand up all that long unaided.
It's a bit of a relief after that to hear 'The Rat Within The Grain' a straightforward musically upbeat / emotionally downbeat acoustic work showing a familiar capability with voice and guitar, and a slight but troubling resemblance to Paul Simon's 'Fifty ways to Leave Your Lover.'