written by Chris Familton
After the recent and strange happenings in the life of Sinead O’Connor (alleged suicide attempts, advertised marriage and subsequent divorce) one could be forgiven for expecting a new album to be a train wreck from an artist on the slide. Remarkably the opposite is true as How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? is as strong as anything she has released, combining her trademark finger pointing lyrics and character driven songs alongside a new sense of romanticism.
The recurring theme of disillusionment with religion is boldly and eloquently tackled on Take Off Your Shoes, an imagined address from God to the Pope about his failure at his job. As usual O’Connor doesn’t cloak her words in cloudy poetry but rather gets right to the point, the power of her delivery complementing the subject matter brilliantly. Elsewhere she takes a swing at the cult of celebrity on V.I.P, questioning the concept and who bestows such platitudes on shallow achievements in the context of all that is wrong with the world.
The flip-side of O’Connor’s big issue themes is a clutch of bittersweet romantic songs written about a former partner and father of one of her children. Her voice is still sweetly rich in tone with only a shade of huskiness to hint at its decades of use and it gives these songs a wonderful warmth and sincerity. I Had A Baby paints a picture of an ended relationship that was all worth it due to the resulting child. She switches to fiction mode on Reason With Me, painting a character portrait of a junkie’s life that comes across as a sensitive sketch over plaintiff piano chords and strings rather than a judgmental snapshot. Musically the album takes few risks yet it complements her voice and words almost perfectly. For all O’Connor’s tabloid appearances and perceived weaknesses this album proves that her muse and spirit are still strongly intact.
this review was first published in The Drum Media