Folk Rock, 2014
There’s no denying that Sineád O’Connor is an emotionally and psychologically damaged person, and her raw pain suffuses her music in a scorching, evocative rush that makes me feel almost filthy and voyeuristic to be privy to all this. At the same time, there is a glorious kind of catharsis to Ms O’Connor’s music. Whether she’s singing a gentle folk song or a folk rock anthem she has co-written, her vocals can cut deep into the heart.
I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss is a different kind of direction for her: more heavily produced than usual, her crystal clear vocals are now layered over and even processed studio gee-whiz magic to become what is probably her most accessible kind of music since her cover version of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U. Still, there is no denying that every song is hers, stamped and battered raw with her passion as well as her anguish.
Streetcars is the culmination of her bittersweet epiphany about her love and life – this achingly haunting ballad exposes her acceptance that she must love herself above all, but this realization comes with the double-edged belief that the love of another will never be hers.
I have chosen, I have chosen
To become the love I’m longing
Love was never something beyond me
Underneath me or above me
And I will, I must and so I will
Dwell beneath the desert still
For there’s no safety to be acquired
Riding streetcars named desire
Indeed, many of the songs here celebrate Ms O’Connor’s determination to be happy, although how she wants to achieve this may give listener a bittersweet kind of feels. She rejects the hurt that has plagued her so doggedly in the past, but in doing so, she also becomes more alienated from the world around her. This is no doubt a protection mechanism, one that I can relate to, but still, I can only wonder whether there are other ways one can find inner peace in life.
Take Me to Church embodies her conflicts beautifully. No, this is not the same song as that Hozier’s song of the same name; this is a rousing anthem of Ms O’Connor finally finding the faith to embrace life again.
I don’t wanna be that girl no more
I don’t wanna cry no more
I don’t wanna die no more
So cut me down from this here tree
Cut the rope from off of me
Sit me on the floor
I’m the only one I should adore
However, she still rejects the same church like she always had. No, this song isn’t about going to church as much as it is a cry for a gentler, kinder, less hurtful form of faith to come into her life.
Yeah, take me to church
But not the ones that hurt
‘Cause that ain’t the truth
And that’s not what it’s worth
Not every song here is about gloom and doom made into a beautiful kind of despair. Easily the best song on this album, Your Green Jacket is both a painfully real tale of unrequited love and a sexy, mischievous expression of desire as Ms O’Connor finds the jacket of that crush on hers left behind on a post and sings this song while… er, touching that garment lovingly. Very catchy, very sensual, very awkward and painfully reminiscent of all unrequited crushes in this world, this song stands out as a gentle, playful embodiment of the dichotomy of Ms O’Connor’s music: it is so good to listen to, and so painful at the same time, because everything in Ms O’Connor’s tormented psyche just spills out even in the happiest song in the world.
Forget the playful title, I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss is a soothing-discomfiting, haunting-painful, sweet-brutal musical ride that leaves me feeling like I’ve been battered black and blue. That’s a good feeling, but I admit I may need to take a break before giving this album another spin. Well, except Your Green Jacket: that song is really adorable, so I’m going to play that one again a few more times.