Catherine Wise
July 18, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

When Rice sings ”I can’t take my eyes off of you/And so it is,” backed by a haunting cello and an acoustic guitar, it’s hard not to melt. On his evocative debut, O, the Irish singer-songwriter shifts from opera-infused ballads to delicate folk compositions with aplomb. Reminiscent of James Taylor and Jeff Buckley, Rice is both vulnerable and seductive — and sure to find an audience on this side of the pond.

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