Ranking all the songs on Damien Rice's O from least to most emotional 8 months ago

Ranking all the songs on Damien Rice's O from least to most emotional

Damien Rice's acclaimed O album is TWENTY YEARS OLD.

That doesn't seem right, does it?

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I mean, maybe. Maybe it does. Maybe time makes sense.

On the other hand, perhaps time makes fools of us all.

First released on 1 February, 2002, O by Damien Rice is frequently hailed to this day as an Irish classic.

As with the likes of Xtra-Vision's commitment to ensuring that every household in the country had a copy of Intermission on DVD, and the permanent fixture that was David Gray's White Ladder, Rice's debut album feels like a tangible document of the time, one that a wounded nation embraced with full, possibly broken, hearts.

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Sure, it's arguably responsible for unleashing an endless stream of over-confident lads whipping out the acoustic guitar at a party in order to bring the mood all the way down, but these songs resonate, damn it.

In celebration of O turning 20 years young, it's time to rank all 10 songs on the record in order from least to most emotional.

Get ready. It's about to get real...

#10. 'Older Chests'

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Serving as the album's midpoint, 'Older Chests' is an unavoidable comedown – yes, highly emotional, primarily acoustic albums can come down at a certain point – after the blistering four-track run of 'Delicate', 'Volcano', 'The Blower's Daughter' and 'Cannonball', but more on those later.

'Older Chests' is just too meandering and forcefully earnest for its own good. Frankly, it's dull. By the time Rice arrives at a clichéd line like, "And daddy lost at the races too many times" you're basically clock-watching.

Apparently, he once said that the song was inspired by the poor construction of a friend's apartment when directly contrasted with the ancient cathedral next to it. Does that sound emotional to you?

#9. 'Cold Water'

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A song that takes some admirably ambitious musical leaps at times but nonetheless becomes encased in its determinedly freezing atmosphere.

Beyond that, it's all a bit too much 'shout at the heavens' to really pull you into a personal headspace.

#8. 'I Remember'

It's probably fair to argue that O is a pretty front-loaded album and that the back half can only inevitably suffer as a result.

The songs that close the record are clearly accomplished and heartfelt, though sometimes there is an unavoidable 'by the numbers' feeling at play.

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Lisa Hannigan takes point, delicately, on the first half of 'I Remember' before Rice happens along, seemingly thrilled to challenge the decibel levels on the sound desk.

The contrast is clear and there's no denying that 'I Remember' crashes accordingly into maelstrom crescendo territory when called for, but the overall effect feels a touch confused, like two songs crowbarred into one.

Clip via damienricemusic

#7. 'Eskimo'

A pleasingly straightforward affair, one that came about after a bout of writer's block.

Hit by a bolt of inspiration, Rice penned 'Eskimo', a song that feels more 'glass half full' that some of the other standouts on O.

On paper, it's an ode to kinship and perhaps a tribute to the people who help us through tough times.

Plus, it leads to 'Prague', a nicely raw hidden track.

What could be more emotional than a secret? Rice truly understood the assignment here, as the kids say.

#6. 'Cheers Darlin'

And so we very much move to 'glass half empty' territory, right down to the clinking of said object serving as a notably spiky percussive instrument throughout.

Rice, or at least a character he is inhabiting, surveys the wreckage and cost of a failed relationship, seemingly while attending the wedding of his former flame.

A wedding is often excellent terrain for a heartbreaker, particularly when the author is sitting a few feet away from harmony, brooding all the while.

Hopefully he brought a nice gift along, at least.

#5. 'Amie'

AMIE, COME SIT ON MY WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL...

Clip via LittleMixXFVEVO

#4. 'Cannonball'

Despite emerging as a default anthem for X Factor hopefuls and subsequent anaemic covers galore, 'Cannonball' is a true belter.

Though you could make the argument that 'Cannonball' represents Rice at his most transparently tortured, some songs feel undeniable.

This is one of them.

#3. 'Delicate'

A perfectly pitched, honestly quite beautiful opener to any album, let alone your debut.

'Delicate' holds up terrifically well in 2022, serving as both microcosm for what the artist is generally about and benefiting from the passage of time.

In spite of its title, 'Delicate' always had such weight to it.

With so much more life experience to project upon it, both from the man who wrote it and the listener that once cradled it dear, the song feels wonderfully lived-in.

#2. 'Volcano'

Is it a Damien Rice song?

Is it a Paul Noonan song?

Is it a Bell X1 song?

Is it a Juniper song?

That's, er, perhaps a touch complicated.

Let's focus on this – 'Volcano' is a hell of a song, and clearly quite emotive.

You could even say it's worthy of its name; all build and boil, mesmerising all who wander into its vicinity.

#1. 'The Blower's Daughter'

Clip via Danilo Campos Lisboa

It had to be, hadn't it?

Just a hammer-blow(er) of a song, and one that absolutely still has the power to punch all the way through your chest 20 years later.

Used to heart-stopping effect at the beginning and end of caustic, star-studded 2004 relationship drama Closer – it's hard not to think of the song sometimes without picturing a crimson-haired Natalie Portman walking down a busy street in slow motion – 'The Blower's Daughter' delights in devastation.

"I can't take my eyes off of you," Rice croons repeatedly, completely doing away with subtext because that's not what we're here for.

We're present for pain and poignancy, longing and loss, the faintest possibility of hope washed over with the reality of regret, the quest for closure and the age-old question of 'Is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all?' ringing in your ears.

Rice relishes every new line of dialogue, each newly refracted memory.

Lisa Hannigan's bridge brings restless escalation. The coda crushes, as it must.

It's a pretty good song, guys.

I'm in bits. We're all in pieces. No more. No more. Dismiss me, enough.