She’s got what she wants

SINÉAD O’CON­NOR

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC - BRIAN BOYD

I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss

Thirty years in the biz and Sinéad O’Con­nor is look­ing at the big­ger pic­ture: “I don’t write au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal songs any more, I write char­ac­ter songs”. Re­lieved of the in­tense in­tro­spec­tion of her ear­lier works, O’Con­nor’s 10th stu­dio al­bum is leav­ened with flashes of hu­mour and self-par­ody. She’s very much wav­ing, not drown­ing.

Like Ray Davis be­fore her, O’Con­nor has un­cov­ered the para­dox­i­cal truth that writ­ing about other peo­ple pro­vides more sear­ing in­sights into one’s own psy­che. On the stand­out track, Eight Good Rea­sons, she sings, “I love to make mu­sic, but my head got wrecked by the busi­ness”. That sits neatly along­side a dec­la­ra­tion on the cur­rent sin­gle, Take Me to Church: “I don’t wanna sing from where I sang be­fore, I don’t wanna love the way I loved be­fore”. It’s a mo­ment of clar­ity.

The Opener, How About Me, is a wist­ful af­fair that pref­aces the main ac­tion. On Kisses Like Mine, O’Con­nor play­fully re­verses the tra­di­tional gen­der roles. But on Your Green Jacket she sounds like an early 1960s girl group sing­ing about melo­dra­matic prom­ises of undy­ing love. The Vishnu Room’s sul­try eroti­cism – “your breath, your naked­ness, all your soft­ness, and your hard­ness” – sounds like Molly Bloom’s so­lil­o­quy up­dated.

Take Me to Church is one of the best things O’Con­nor has ever writ­ten. This is the stern and se­ri­ous young girl from Mandinka nearly three decades on (“I’ve done so many bad things it hurts”) re­solv­ing col­lat­eral dam­age is­sues and with the fire once again back in her belly.

The al­bum closes with Street­cars, a solemn hymn wherein O’Con­nor re­alises that “there’s no safety to be ac­quired, rid­ing street­cars named de­sire”. This is not an el­egy for Blanche DuBois, but the re­signed res­o­lu­tion of some­one who has found per­spec­tive and con­text in her life.

With a voice more ex­pres­sive and nu­anced than it’s been in a long time and a whole new lyri­cal pal­ette to play with, this is Sinéad O’Con­nor’s Farewell to Arms. The past has been bot­tled and la­belled with love and a whole lot more be­sides. These re­ally are songs of faith and courage. sinead­o­con­nor.com Down­load: Take Me to Church, Your Green Jacket, Har­bour, Street­cars

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