Damien Rice reintroduces himself after an eight-year absence, sounding as if he’s fallen through the rabbit hole and come out the other end somewhat wearier, but clear-eyed and more resolute. Rice’s “Fantasy,” coproduced by Rick Rubin, is often dark and beautiful, featuring dramatic orchestrations, intricate arrangements, and hushed, swooning vocals. The Irish singer-songwriter often intimates emotions with delicate phrasing and cracks in his voice than with lyrics, which sometimes veer toward the sentimental and vague (“I Don’t Want to Change You”). With the gorgeous “Trusty and True” he refuses to wallow in lost hope, and finds renewal and possibility. Love still disappoints him and his doomed romanticism can be undeniably affecting. Unlike his last record, “9,” where pained contemplation of the damages of love sounded more like kitsch, here Rice draws blood with “Colour Me In” and “Box,” both genuine and wrenching. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Trusty and True”Ken Capobianco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.