August 2005

Sinéad O'Connor - Collaborations
Capitol Records 72435-63852-2-1
Format: CD
Released: 2005

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ***
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

Sinéad O'Connor’s outspokenness and eccentricity (she’s currently a member of a controversial religious sect) have for some time pushed her talents and achievements as a musician out of people’s 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 she’s 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. It’s a diverse selection that demonstrates her versatility and wide-ranging interests. Her strangely beautiful, wordless vocals on the Asian Dub Foundation’s "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 Attack’s "Special Cases" and Bomb the Bass’s "Empire." O’Connor brings a gritty directness to Ian Dury’s "Wake Up and Make Love With Me." Dury’s backup band, the Blockheads, give her firm support. Recording quality varies on Collaborations, but is generally good.

O’Connor is such a distinctive and powerful vocalist that she doesn’t get overwhelmed by the strong musical personalities on U2’s "I’m Not Your Baby" or Peter Gabriel’s "Blood of Eden." Yet, she doesn’t 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," O’Connor said in 2000. Maybe so, but Collaborations gives us 17 reasons to listen again and to ask for more.