Don't Be Lonely This Christmas

Despite being recorded in 2003, Damien Rice's first live album 'Live From The Union' has only just emerged, providing a rare treat for fans. As well as some of the classic Rice tracks, which made the singer's name, there are three never before recorded tracks and a haunting performance of 'Silent Night' from Lisa Hannigan.

The performances are as impassioned and magical as ever, from the careening, 'Volcano', the wistful, 'Blower's Daughter' and the soft, dreamy, 'Amie' with its climactic and emotive chorus, to the previously unheard tracks. 'Then Go', an aching and smoky number with vocals led by Hannigan is a slow-building maze of deep reverberating cello and entwining vocals. 'Baby Sister' is a delicate duet with the third voice of a violin rubbing against Rice's raw voice in his delight howls. The third tune has a more soulful feel with Hannigan's sweet lilt shimmying over abstract percussive beats.

It feels somewhat nostalgic to hear Rice before he ascended to playing the large and somewhat impersonal halls his most recent tour has warranted, especially as he and Hannigan parted ways for these outings and it's evident from this recording how instrumental she was in building Rice's reputation with those trademark husky duets.

It's easy to see why the live album has been given a pre-Christmas release, and it's not just because of Hannigan's delightful and bitterly eerie version of 'Silent Night'. Damien Rice's deeply emotional lyrics and tender tunes are perfect for snuggling up with a loved one by the fire and reminiscing about past time.