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Sinead O'Connor - Theology

Sinead O'Connor, Theology

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

ACCORDING to singer Sinead O’Connor, Theology is “an attempt to create a place of peace in a time of war”.

“It’s my own personal response to what has taken place and is affecting everyone around the world since and including September 11, 2001,” she explains. “I simply wanted to make a beautiful thing which inspires me.”

With a voice like hers, the beauty is pretty much a given. But while Theology contains its fair share of great songs, a great deal of it underwhelms.

The album is divided into two CDs – the first, recorded in an acoustic style (marking the Dublin Sessions), the second in electric (the London Sessions).

What that means is, both CDs contain the same songs – albeit one stripped back, acoustic and bringing out the best in O’Connor’s voice, the other more geared towards being radio friendly (with slicker production values).

The highlights include Something Beautiful, a song that’s tender, achingly romantic and as peaceful/beautiful as O’Connor could have hoped (on both CDs).

Out Of The Depths in plugged in form rises above some of its heavy, message-laden lyrics (about religion) to incorporate some stirring beats and electric guitars.

While If You Had A Vineyard also delivers the goods in London Sessions form, thanks to another thumping (by Sinead’s standards) backbeat and some alluring acoustic strumming.

And Watcher Of Men works in both acoustic and electric format, thanks in no small part to some of the striking imagery contained within the lyrics.

But elsewhere, songs like The Glory Of Jah feel overly religious and heavy-handed, while her updated versions of Rivers Of Babylon fail to stir as much excitement or admiration as Sinead was undoubtedly hoping.

That song brings both Sessions to a somewhat ponderous, self-important close.

So, while there’s no denying the striking beauty of Sinead’s vocals, Theology sometimes feels like a laboured effort.

Of the two CDs, the electric version – produced by R’n‘B stalwart Ron Tom – is the most satisfying, mostly because you really have to have a strong, strong appreciation of O’Connor’s vocals to stay the course on the oh-so slow Dublin Session.

But overall, this requires a lot of patience no matter how well-meaning the intent.

Download picks: Something Beautiful, Out of The Depths (London), Watcher of Men (London), We People Are Darker Than Blue (London)

Track listing:
Disc One – Dublin Sessions

  1. Something Beautiful
  2. We People Who Are Darker Than Blue
  3. Out Of The Depths
  4. Dark I Am Yet Lovely
  5. If You Had A Vineyard
  6. Watcher Of Men
  7. 33
  8. The Glory Of Jah
  9. Whomsoever Dwells
  10. Rivers Of Babylon

Disc Two – London Sessions

  1. Something Beautiful
  2. We People Who Are Darker Than Blue
  3. Out Of The Depths
  4. 33
  5. Dark I Am Yet Lovely
  6. I Don’t Know How To Love Him
  7. If You Had A Vineyard
  8. The Glory Of Jah
  9. Watcher Of Men
  10. Whomsoever Dwells
  11. Rivers Of Babylon