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Sinead will just be herself

Sinead O’Connor : How About I Be Me (And You Be You) – review.

How about I be me (and you be you)

One Little Indian

When I first heard that Sinead O’Connor was releasing a new album I gasped and exhaled a sigh of relief. For me Sinead is one of the world’s great musical treasures and to lose her as we nearly did to depression, to media harassment and early retirement would have been a tragedy.

In a musical landscape white-noised by manufactured hits and photocopied pop stars she stands as one of the few musicians who refused outright to fit the bill. She’s always seen herself as a protest singer, and when Ensign Records initially refused to release I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got in 1990 because of its candidness, her response was, “Well, drop me then.” That was 22 years ago. She hasn’t lost her candidness and she has never sounded better.

From the opening dance of “4th and Vine” right down to the last breath of “VIP,” she lives up to the mystical trail that has followed her since the 1986 release of The Lion and the Cobra. If you stopped listening at any point along the way, don’t worry: O’Connor’s ninth release, How About I Be Me (And You Be You), plays like a stellar collection of B-sides. That is to say, it feels familiar — in a good way.

There is one noticeable difference, though; she seems happier than we’ve ever heard her. Even in the darkest or most furious moments, there is a feeling of lightness. She’s laughing at people a bit more these days. “Queen of Denmark” (the only track not penned by O’Connor) manages to inspire a bit of a chuckle. It is a shit-kicking lullaby that tears a page from 2004′s Universal Mother, but it’s less dire.

The only real thing keeping How About I Be Me from classic album status is the awkward sequencing of the songs. Frankly, the two opening tracks are too strong to open the record together. It’s a mistake that sacrifices the larger body of work in an attempt to catch the listener’s attention right off the top. This choice often wears an album out too fast and doesn’t encourage the listener to experience the album as a whole.

Balance is especially key in this case because the songs on How About I Be Me are so strong that they threaten to overshadow each other. In my opinion, the slow-burning “Back Where You Belong” would have been a better choice to open the record, as it pulls you in and could have laid a nice groundwork for the other nine songs. Regardless of how you feel about the order of tracks, there is no doubt this is a solid album that needs to be heard.

When talking about the motivation behind this recent album in her own making-of video, O’Connor has said, “You should never make an album unless you are going to go mental if you don’t.” It’s an admirable statement in the aforementioned world of manufactured music. What would albums sound like if musicians didn’t fall to the pressure of write, record, tour, repeat? How About I Be Me is the answer. Another lyrically thought-provoking and musically exciting album from Sinead O’Connor.

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Here is Sinead’s video for “The Wolf Is Getting Married”:

To buy this album or to get more info, jump on over to her label’s official Sinead O’Connor page.

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