Release Date: Aug 12, 2014
Record label: Nettwerk
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, College Rock, Celtic Rock
In weaker moments, even steadfast Sinéad O’Connor fans would probably admit their iconic Dublin heroine’s career has been wilfully wayward this side of Y2K. Though occasionally bequeathing transcendent results, O’Connor’s perplexing post-millennial journey has found her wrapping her remarkable larynx around traditional Irish folk, Jamaican roots reggae and even tunes from Jesus Christ Superstar. Against the grain, though, she delivered her most fully-realised “pop” LP since her multi-platinum smash I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got with 2012’s acclaimed How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?.
Sinead O’ConnorI’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss(Nettwerk)4 out of 5 stars Look no further than the title and striking cover photo of Sinead O’Connor’s tenth studio release to understand that this is a remake/remodel. When she opens the disc with the declaration “I wanna make love like a real full woman, everyday” in a dusky, husky, lioness voice then shifts up a few octaves to continue “I’ve got to find what I’m dreaming of,” it’s clear that the singer-songwriter, never shy to begin with, has hit a feisty, middle aged, sensual I-want-your-hands-on-me swagger. O’Connor is also upping the volume, even heading into blues rock territory with the crushing, nightmarish “The Voice Of My Doctor” and the swampy “Kisses Like Mine.
“Take Me to Church”, the first single on Sinéad O’Connor’s 11th album, I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss, is one of her sloganeering songs, for lack of a better word. It opens with a heady rush of words, half-rapped and half-sung, that race into the triumphal chorus. The song has no time for the niceties of verses or bridges as O’Connor elaborates on the idea of church: “Take me to church but not the ones that hurt/ ‘Cause that ain’t the truth.” On paper, such repetition might seem lazy or at least unimaginative, but there’s power in the device.
Whenever anyone thinks of or mentions Sinéad O’Connor, chances are pretty good that her music isn’t, necessarily, the first thing that comes to mind. Ever since she arrived on the scene in 1987 with The Lion and the Cobra, her politics and personality have often overshadowed her artistry. Between ripping apart a picture of the “evil” Pope and ripping apart an image of the “prostituted” Miley Cyrus, O’Connor has certainly done her part to force that focus.
A decade of inconsistent, spotty, or simply confusing output from iconic Irish singer/songwriter Sinéad O'Connor was redeemed with 2012's refreshingly focused and honest effort How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? That album saw O'Connor effortlessly creating the same type of emotionally charged yet easily melodic fare that constituted her earliest, most popular work, and positioned her for a graceful return to form. Two years later, I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss follows the impassioned pop framework of its immediate predecessor, branching out into even more vivid stylistic dimensions and retaining all the energy, controversy, and fire that have come to define O'Connor as both a musician and a political figure. Taken at face value, the songs here are vibrant and multifaceted.
Sporting a title as fit for Joan Jett as herself, Sinead O’Connor’s tenth album over a career that spans almost three decades is a continuation of her tried and patented glam/soft rock mix that tackles the intimate human condition in tandem with worldly affairs. Overall, the Irish singer-songwriter delivers an impressive romp of pop, but it does have several compositional flaws that belie either a lack of ideas or a lack of emotion from a typically impassioned artist, in addition to an extremely unsteady lyrical base on female empowerment. As compared to the previous few albums, the tracks on I’m Not Bossy are shorter and more succinct; there are no six-minute rockers here, but a collection of 12 three- and four-minute ballads.
In describing I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss as "just an album of love songs", as she did in a recent Observer interview, Sinéad O'Connor isn't telling the half of it. The dominatrix-style latex dress and wig she's wearing on the cover tell another story in their own right, but the photo and the music are part of a relationship narrative that finds her ablaze with indignation, lust and hopelessness. Though she maintains that only a few songs are autobiographical, it's difficult to read the rest as fiction.
Sinéad O'Connor has cited Chicago blues as an influence on her 10th studio album - a collection of songs about love sung from the POV of imagined characters. Mostly the blues manifests itself in the loud, aggressive quality of the guitar-playing, like on The Voice Of My Doctor and Harbour, two furious songs that give the polarizing Irish singer/songwriter a chance to snarl and wail with the emotional fury that deepens with each successive release. O'Connor's impassioned delivery elevates the most middling melodies and predictable rhymes.
It's curious—or curiously apt, given that her tumultuous career and public life have been filled with head-scratchers—that Sinéad O'Connor would follow up a series of scathing open letters to Miley Cyrus initially regarding the use of provocative imagery in the young star's work with a rather straightforward pop-rock album filled with sexually charged material. Of course, O'Connor isn't swinging naked from a wrecking ball in her new music video, but I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss, which is the singer-songwriter's most accessible album since 2000's Faith and Courage, includes a song about a woman, to quote the press notes, “romantically engaging with her pillow. ” It's also curious that O'Connor claims that most of the songs on the album aren't autobiographical, what with lyrics like “I love to make music, but my head got wrecked by the business,” which was essentially her warning to Cyrus last fall.
The album title might sound like a module from a self-assertiveness course, but Sinead O’Connor’s tenth studio album in a 27-year career is really a continuation of the journey the Irish songstress took with her 2012 “comeback” release, How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? It begins with a song that takes its title from that same record and goes on to explore love and romance from often contrary standpoints. Though O’Connor and controversy go hand-in-hand, last year it was her spat with Miley Cyrus that took the headlines. The Catholic Church must have been much relieved.
For much of her 10th album, it appears that Sinéad O’Connor has reinvented herself as Shania Twain. A far cry from the open-wounded pop of her early career, ‘Dense Water Deeper Down’ and ‘Your Green Jacket’ offer conformist, lightweight MOR country rock. The album title promises much in the way of forthright antagonism and the Jessie J hair she sports suggests some kind of ironic statement on the chart mainstream, but the content fails to deliver, save for two isolated moments.
Sinéad O’Connor is a very talented artist who has written and performed more brave, powerful and inspiring songs over the course of her 25-year career than would be practical to list here. There have been few social, political, sexual or cultural issues that she hasn’t weighed in on, and as her infamous appearance on Saturday Night Live in which she ripped a photograph of the pope demonstrated, she’s never shied away from expressing unpopular opinions. Like David Bowie before her, Sinéad O’Connor’s artistry and life have been driven by restlessness and thirst for experience; over the years she’s played around with styles as diverse as power pop, techno, reggae, gospel, Irish traditional music and straight-ahead rock and roll.
Within the first minute of album opener, "How About I Be Me?" Sinéad O'Connor presents us with the thesis of I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss. "I want to be a real, full woman," she tells us, delineating the architecture of her feminism over the rest of that track and the rest of the album, a thoughtful and poignant statement on a woman negotiating the paradox of her power and fragility. .
As is typical of an album from the always raw and insightful Irish singer-songwriter Sinéad O’Connor, many voices are represented on “I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss.” The midtempo guitar drifter “Your Green Jacket” adopts the perspective of a woman who longs for a man she knows she will never have, so instead she pulls his jacket close and inhales deeply of his scent. The moment when a woman realizes the man she is sleeping with is married is captured deftly in “The Voice of My Doctor,” a churning rocker. “Dense Water Deeper Down” brims with the cheerful pop musings of someone in the throes of a private reverie of romantic memories.
"I wanna be a real, full woman," Sinéad O'Connor sings to begin her strong new studio record, "and live like a real, full woman every day." For anyone in this age of tweet-sized self-presentation, that's a goal more easily stated than accomplished. But such nuance seems especially elusive for O'Connor, who has spent the past few years contending with a rapidly narrowing public persona. This is a modal window.
About halfway through Sinead O'Connor's latest album, "I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss" (Nettwerk), the listener could be forgiven for thinking the title and the glam-rocker-in-latex cover photo are some kind of ironic joke. Yes, she may look like the boss, but there's nothing bossy about the first half-dozen tunes, just a smooth series of adult-pop pleasantries from a woman who rarely serves as anyone's background music. At her best, O'Connor works extremes — from soul-wrenching balladeer to banshee punk — and there's none of that here.