Apparently after his marvelous albums O and 9 Damien Rice was quite disillusioned about music or more precisely, the whole industry the surrounds it. That was coupled with a breakup with long time girlfriend and musical partner, Lisa Hannigan, and some serious writer’s block. As a result he stepped back for a good long while – eight years to be exact – before releasing his new album, My Favourite Faded Fantasy. The layoff and maybe the lingering negative feelings in regards to the music industry do not show on the album as it is a wonderful example of non-nauseating deep self-reflection. Definitely one of my nominees for the best albums of 2014. The first single “I Don’t Want to Change You” was released a little before the album and is probably the best thing he has done since “The Blower’s Daughter” and “Cannonball”. This time the Irish troubadour turned to American super producer Rick Rubin to work on the album with him. His signature sound has not changed very much nor has the dark nature of his lyrics. The arrangements raise the music up and often brilliantly peak by the end of the song. Peaks and valleys in the sound are used very effectively manipulating your emotions along with every note played. That being said the way he crafts his songs and allows you into his heart and mind is quite unique amidst all of today’s prefabricated pop acts; the genuine nature of his music is what makes him a standout. He sings what is in his heart and it affects that mythical part of the listener. He is a master of conveying emotion. While listening to his music this storyteller transports you to a world made up of his feelings and words. Nothing that you will hear on the eight tracks on the album will leave you unaffected or dissatisfied.