Nobody writes a break-up ballad like Damien Rice. “Cannonball,” the heartwrenching single from the Irish singer-songwriter’s 2002 debut album, O, will still be played in the darkened bedrooms of dumped individuals the world over for years to come. There isn’t much good news on 9, either. He opens with another of his gorgeous tearjerkers: “9 Crimes” features Vyvienne Long’s cello and Lisa Hannigan’s feather-light soprano in a tortured conversation between unfaithful lovers. Rice’s reedy tenor sounds so immediate, he might as well be sitting across from you, and he projects palpable emotions ranging from loneliness (“Grey Room”) to fury (“Rootless Tree”). He avoids being too folksy or slipping into an acoustic coma by layering percussion, electric guitars, and strings when needed. By the end, you’ll feel you’ve been through the same wringer.
Damien Rice + The Swell Season | Orpheum Theatre, 1 Hamilton Place, Boston | December 11 | 617.931.2000