Sinéad O'Connors outspokenness and eccentricity (shes currently a member of a controversial religious sect) have for some time pushed her talents and achievements as a musician out of peoples minds. The audacity of some of her actions, such as tearing up a photo of the Pope on Saturday Night Live, may cause one to question her judgment, but shes taken big risks musically and her influence on others is beyond question. The Cranberries, for example, are unthinkable without her.
Collaborations pulls together 17 examples of her work with other musicians. Its a diverse selection that demonstrates her versatility and wide-ranging interests. Her strangely beautiful, wordless vocals on the Asian Dub Foundations "1000 Mirrors" combine delicacy and strength to evoke the sound and spirit of Indian pop music. Other atmospheric and world-music-influenced tracks include Massive Attacks "Special Cases" and Bomb the Basss "Empire." OConnor brings a gritty directness to Ian Durys "Wake Up and Make Love With Me." Durys backup band, the Blockheads, give her firm support. Recording quality varies on Collaborations, but is generally good.
OConnor is such a distinctive and powerful vocalist that she doesnt get overwhelmed by the strong musical personalities on U2s "Im Not Your Baby" or Peter Gabriels "Blood of Eden." Yet, she doesnt dominate the recordings of lesser-known Irish artists Aslan and Damien Dempsey, whose tracks are among the most enjoyable on Collaborations. "I know that I have done many things to give you reason not to listen to me," OConnor said in 2000. Maybe so, but Collaborations gives us 17 reasons to listen again and to ask for more.
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