The singer who in 1990 made men sigh and women embrace a new trend of shaving their locks, has just release her ninth album, which is in fact her best studio effort in years. Produced by her first husband, John Reynolds, “How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?” is Sinéad O’Connor’s welcome return to the melodic song and extreme sincerity that made her famous in the first place.
The album opens with a very simple, optimistic love song, “4th and Vine”, which sees the Irish singer expressing childish enthusiasm at dressing up in a pink dress, doing her hair up tight and putting some eyeliner, eyeshade and perfume on to look real nice when she walks down the aisle to marry a man whose “love is serious”. And, in her girlish excitement she dreams about being “happy for all time” because this man with “big green eyes” is “the sweetest man you could find, so gentle and so kind”, her “love”, with whom she will have six children who will also be “happy for all time.” It’s a funny and joyful song that bodies every girl’s dream of happiness, love and marriage, and probably O’Connor’s secret wish of a life she never had.
She follows this first song with a more gently song about a drug addict who doesn’t “want to waste the life God gave” him and who still has hope of getting better. “I don’t think that it’s too late to save me,” she sings with a soft voice. Then, she picks on modern celebrities and the entire cult that surrounds them in “VIP” targeting those VIPs who always invoke God when accepting an award but without taking a stand when crimes are made in the name of the same God, while she touches a sensitive chord in “Take Off Your Shoes”. On this song she expresses with painful honesty her angry and sorrow for the recently disclosed child abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church; “I bleed the blood of Jesus over you,” she sings. It’s not surprising at all that Sinéad O’Connor targeted this issue as he once shocked the Catholic communities by tearing up the pope’s photo on Saturday Night Live.
Moreover, O’Connor, who used to generate sensational headlines, reminds us, once more of the original, provocative, honest and exceptional her music is. The less funny cover of John Grant’s “Queen of Denmark” is a bit nasty, while on the ballad “I Had a Baby,” O’Connor confesses what the world already knows, “I was always crazy”. However, her craziness is the source of her amazing art and she proves that furthermore in “Old Lady” and “The Wolf Is Getting Married”.
Therefore, How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? is the here-proof that Sinéad can create art when we let O’Connor be O’Connor, when we accept her and her rarely polished music as they are, a whole of powerful expressions of her most intimate thoughts and feelings, political, religious and sexual convictions.