How About I Be Me (And You Be You), Sinead O’Connor, One Little Indian, 5 March 2012
Opening with bouncing horse-and-buggy song, ‘4th and Vine’, about the fresh-faced hopefulness of getting married to someone you love, How About I Be Me (And You Be You), is a record of heart-on-sleeve sincerity. It’s been five years since Sinead O’Connor’s last release and a lot has happened to her in this intervening time. Hearts have been broken and healed. Children have grown. Regrets have flowered into song.
Sinead’s voice remains as strident as it has ever been, with that wispy edge of reediness that lends her lyrics their poignant savour. On ‘Old Lady’, a crush from her youth is revisited with a retro-rocky melody, while her voice retains an element of sorrow. Love is an evident theme that overlays much of this record, the loss of it, the bursting excitement of it in its full flush. ‘The Wolf is Getting Married’ creeps up to its celebratory phrases about the mutual joy of soulmates, breathily enunciated by Sinead.
O’Connor continues her complicated relationship with the Catholic Church on ‘Take Off Your Shoes’, where dark tones flavour unforgiving rhythms.
There’s motherhood on this album as well: ‘I Had A Baby’, speaks for itself and marks a brief electronica divergence from the other more traditional rock music styles employed on this album. ‘Back Where You Belong’ is a touching, gently handled, and deeply personal song about families and death.
Held together by the central cover version of ‘Queen of Denmark’ (John Grant) the album is brought to a solemn end by ‘VIP’, an attack on celebrity and hypocrisy. This album is a showcase of Sinead’s continued anger at and hope for society and the world. It’s a solid body of songs by an artist who has lost none of her vitality or humour.
What do you think to Sinead’s heart-on-sleeve approach? Can there be too much honesty in music?