Review: Sinead O'Connor - Why Can't I Be Me (and You Be You)
Ahh, Sinead, Sinead, Sinead...always keeping us guessing, giggling behind our backs as we squirm and hope for your well-being and think perhaps the meds aren't working. The frank, explicit Tweets about your lack of intimate pleasures; the open invitation to apply as your bed partner; the announcement that you were getting married to one of the applicants on your birthday; the break-up a couple weeks after; the reconciliation; the confession that you were "very un-well...and in danger." It all sounded very off the rails, even for someone who always enjoyed stirring the pot with a shovel instead of a spoon. And then you give us this...your new album. And you've tricked us again, because you know what? It's quite stunning. After two decades of not bad to pretty darn good efforts covering everything from standards to tweaked-up Irish songs to reggae, O'Connor has found herself in classic form again. The power, the anger, the glory of O'Connor's first two - and best - albums are here in full force, as are her amazing voice and the quality of the songs. In the first, the jaunty, optimistic "4th and Vine," she sings of putting on her pink dress, some perfume, some eyeliner, as she gets ready for her wedding day. They're gonna have six kids and be happy for all time! Yes, of course they will. But with Sinead, it can't be all peaches & cream for long...the very next track, "Reason With Me," is a portrait of a junkie thief hoping to right himself someday, but meantime, "I stole your granny's rosary for 50p." The squirm truly begins with "Take Off Your Shoes," in which she plays the holy spirit vowing retribution to those corrupting the church from within ("I bleed the blood of Jesus over you") and it continues with her cover of John Grant's "Queen of Denmark." O'Connor flatly delivers the humorous and profane lyrics as if she's patient for now, but simmering under the boil, before all hell breaks loose and power chords from angry guitars chop as she goes ballistic - "Why don't you take it out on somebody else / Why don't you tell somebody else that they're selfish." It's a high point of the album, as is the single, "The Wolf Is Getting Married," a simple and effective love song, which acts as a breath of fresh air to the harrowing moments that surround it. It's nice to hear O'Connor singing "Your smile makes me smile / Your laugh makes me laugh" like she really means it. It makes me think she's gonna be all right after all.