Sinéad O’Connor - How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?
Let it be known....this review is late. No excuse really, but what the last couple of weeks have shown me, is that no matter what, people are still focusing on Sinéad's personal struggles and the gossip that surrounds her. This is still what most of the reviews have been talking about, eventually; they focus on the music on her new album ‘How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?. This is considered to be her most accessible of albums, her ‘happiest' album is no doubt what they really want to say, because no one wants her to be too ‘in your face'. After all, we have had years of that haven't we?
I remember watching her on the now de funked Top of The Pops in 1988 and her performance of Mandinka rooted me to the spot. I was half terrified and half fascinated. Sinéad O'Conner has always been in my mind a force of nature. Love her; hate her, that is almost irrelevant. She isn't going anywhere. So, let's try focusing on her music for a change shall we?
The first song ‘ 4th and Vine' is the most surprising of opening tracks. Would it be wrong of me to call it ‘bouncy'?...probably. You wonder for the first 60 seconds where she could be heading with it, sweet, optimistic and welcoming, it lulls you into a false sense of security. ‘Reason With Me' is a haunting ballad of inadmissible beauty, set against the lyrics of drug abuse and loss, yes it's been done before, but you know when Sinead sings about it, it is meant to sear your soul, whether it is about her, or not. She has actually claimed with this album that the songs weren't necessarily about her, but people she knew. Be that as it may, the conviction and emotion is still there. Another romantically influenced song ‘Old Lady' comes next, making you think that perhaps the influence might over take the whole album, until you come to ‘Take Of Your Shoes' hits you like a bulldozer and the lyrics "I bleed the blood of Jesus over you, I bleed the blood of Jesus over you, and over ever fucking thing you do," and the Sinéad we know is back!. However this is not just a woman howling out her own torment and frustration at the Vatican Church, this is a woman intent on setting wrongs to right. This song also marks on the album a shift in tempo and attitude. More self effacing, honest and above all unapologetic. ‘Queen Of Denmark' - one of the highlights of the album - sums up this attitude perfectly, and it is all done with a sense of humour and a twinkle in the eye. ‘I had A Baby' is quite honestly, the most unapologetic song of them all, and its brutal description of a fling, resulting in the happiness at a son being born, is Sinéad at her best. ‘VIP' ends the album with an eye to the life of celebrity and how this is perceived in society and who the true VIP's should be...at the gates of heaven. Yes, it went there, but somehow this is far less irksome than in previous albums.
Her passion is still there, as is her political commentary, but there is a gentleness to this album, a completeness, and this does make it incredibly appealing. It is devoid of stereotype, and it is a very different Sinéad O'Connor from what we have heard before. This is not a comeback, this is an evolution.