Sinead O’Connor was recently back in the news for speaking out about Justin Bieber’s sexuality so that means one thing – she’s dropping a new album. For all the speaking out she’s been doing about young artists being overly sexualized and prostituted by the industry, she sure is looking hot on the album cover and in the video for the first single, “Take Me to Church.” Clad in little leather minidresses and a couple of wigs, Sinead is dressed as the music industry would expect. Maybe she’s empowered and owning her sexuality, maybe she’s trying to sell albums the Miley Cyrus way. Whatever the reason behind her dominatrix dresses, she has released an empowered pop-rock album that sounds like, well, Sinead O’Connor. Her tenth studio album is I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss, which sounds like a slogan to be printed in glitter on a t-shirt.
This album is what you’d expect from Sinead. Actually, from a choir of Sineads. All but one of the songs feature multiple vocal tracks, all sung by Sinead, making it sound like she’s got 3 cloned back-up singers. There are also some throwbacks to vintage Sinead: the opening song, “How About I Be Me” shares the title with Sinead’s last album (guess she was really feeling that title.) The song itself sounds very similar to “Nothing Compares 2 U,” O’Connor’s mega-hit from 1990. Sinead’s image from the “Nothing” video even plays over her current face in the video for the first single, “Take Me to Church.” Someone must have been feeling nostalgic. She says that she doesn’t want to sing love songs anymore on that track, likely a reference to her immensely popular “Nothing.” See below for more on how she’s not singing those same love songs. As is required with Sinead, there are complaints about the music industry on “8 Good Reasons” and a little jibe at the Catholic church on “Take Me to Church” (she wants to be taken to church, but “not the ones that hurt.”)
There are a few bluesy influences on the album, but the pop elements are strong. “Dense Water Deeper Down” has some blues elements but in an over-produced way with bouncy sounds added in. “Kisses Like Mine,” an anthem to how Sinead is the greatest military-grade rebound sex partner, has a rhythm and blues sound as well. There are some influences pulled from other genres, but it’s all rooted in pop. “James Brown” sound more like a Spice Girls’ b-side than anything funky enough for the Godfather of Soul. The breathy vocals about getting kinky in public have one reference to Brown, with “in the words of James Brown, you know I came to get down,” which must be where the title came from because the little bit of horn wasn’t enough to do it. “Harbour” changes from a soft song into an angry rock song as she recounts the story of a young girl with no one to protect her (in the third person, see below.) “The Voice of My Doctor” also has anger and edge to it, though all songs would still be categorized as pop-rock, it doesn’t get that edgy.
As you may have guessed from the title, Sinead is feeling empowered. She doesn’t beg anyone to love her, she sings of “making love like a real full woman” on “How About I be Me” and talks up her mad lovin’ skills on “Kisses Like Mine.” “The Voice of My Doctor,” where she realizes the guy is is sleeping with is married to someone who looks like her, she faces this vulnerable situation with anger. It’s a big change from the desperation heard on “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Even on “Your Green Jacket,” where she could be seen as vulnerable as she smells the green jacket that her lover left behind, the lowest she’ll stoop is to ask if she can say how crazy she is about him though they’re not meant to be together. “Harbour” is about a vulnerable young girl, but it’s sung in the third person and she sings it with an anger and power. “Streetcars” is the most vulnerable we hear Sinead. It’s the only song where there is only one vocal track, signaling loneliness that is also in the lyrics. While that sounds desperate, the lyrics also have empowerment when Sinead sings that “I’ve decided to become the love I’m longing.”
All in all, it’s a well-produced album. If you’re into grown-up empowered woman pop-rock, Sinead speaking her mind, and “Nothing Compares 2 U,” this album will probably fit right into your iTunes. If you’ve never liked Sinead, keep in mind that this album is Sinead multiplied by five (it’s that choir of Sinead.) So there you have it, the short version of this review is “Sinead x 5.”