With ten albums and seven Grammy nominations under her belt, it’s safe to say that Sinéad O’Connor has made her mark in the ruthless music industry. You may know of her by her famous bald head, her sharp tongue or by the string of controversies she’s left at her wake. You would definitely know of her from her hit 90’s single, Nothing Compares 2 U. Having been in the public eye since 1987 with her debut album The Lion and the Cobra, O’Connor’s music has since moved from strength to strength. I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss is her latest offering to the music world, an album that showcases a raw, edgy O’Connor in all her might and glory.
One aspect you’ll definitely notice about this album is the maturity of her voice. In the first track, How About I Be Me, it’s clearly evident how far she’s come from her 30 odd years in show business. O’Connor possesses a deep, soulful voice retains full power and it’s demanding to be heard. Her sound is reminiscent of classic rock n roll and even slightly country – a delightful combination that carries on throughout the album. Dense Water Deep Down opens with a rumbling percussion intro before giving away to a jubilant choir of Sinéads. The backing harmonies create an almost hymn-like atmosphere, only the song is an ode to a bad boy. Again, those harmonies give a full, rich sound in Kisses Like Mine, where O’Connor really takes it up a notch with her fiery attitude and cocky confidence. Even if a song lacks in melodic variety, it’s attitude that really sells – and she’s not holding back, as best demonstrated in The Voice of My Doctor. She’s wild, she’s erratic and downright mad; in fact, she literally shouts a portion of the lyrics. This track could easily become an anthem for any woman who has ever been scorned in a relationship.
O’Connor is clearly a born performer – her vocals may not be consistently spot on, but she sings as though she’s possessed by vigour and spirit. An album highlight is definitely Harbour – what sounds like a sombre piano lullaby suddenly explodes into a cacophony of slashing guitars, metal riffs and smashing drums. She’s screaming but she’s still singing, capturing every bit of that raw anger and lashing it out on the track. It’s definitely an interesting turn of things, and it gives her album such incredible depth and variety. There’s the classic song about unrequited love in Your Green Jacket; between the strums of a laid-back guitar, O’Connor’s voice drips with such longing that it’s beautiful; almost too painful to listen to. More romance follows up with The Vishnu Room, where the strings and synth keyboard compliment her breathy vocals and create an overall soft, sweet lullaby.
O’Connor ought to be commended on her song-writing genius; universal themes of love, heartbreak and depression are all explored in this album. Perhaps the most lyrically confronting piece is the chilling 8 Good Reasons – it doesn’t take long to figure out that she’s singing about suicide. With the simple piano chords and it’s moderate tempo, it comes in form of a sombre, powerhouse ballad. She’s raw, open and vulnerable as she shares with us the downsides of fame and illness; she even drops to a raspy whisper at one point. Yet despite the depressing lyrical content, she also possesses a strength that no one can deny. In fact, this strength is evident in every single track to the last, Streetcars, where over a dreamy synth keyboard she reflects on her life experiences – the highs and the lows.
O’Connor is more than just a singer. She’s a story teller – she gathers together her life lessons and presents them in a platter for her fans and critics to scrutinise. She doesn’t give a damn what you think – this album is for her; it’s a memoir of her most personal tales and each song is powerful in its own right. I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss is gritty and raw, full of life and fire. And that fire isn’t about to be put out any time soon.