Sinead O'Connor, "I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss" (Nettwerk)
After a rough few years for Sinead O'Connor, as she dealt with a 16-day marriage and canceled a tour due to mental illness, it's heartening to see her confident image on the cover of the new disc, "I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss." She wears a black wig and sexy latex dress, hugging an electric guitar to her chest. The boss, indeed.
O'Connor, 47, seemed like a strong woman in control of her life and work in her younger years, even while singing about heartbreak or acting a little nutty. What's striking about her new set of songs is how needy, even forlorn, she sounds.
She yearns openly for a strong man in the album opener and elsewhere; for a man to "take me, make a fool of me all night." She dreams about another: "I'd give anything to be the one who kisses you." She dubs herself "special forces," called in "after divorces" due to her kissing ability, but warns a guy that she's not the keeping kind. She sings about being foolishly seduced by a married man and bemoans that she looks like a wooden chair. "Take me to church," she pleads. "I've done so many bad things it hurts." She even writes of contemplating suicide.
"I love to make music but my head got wrecked by the business," she sings on "8 Good Reasons." "Everybody wanting something from me, they rarely ever wanna just know me. I became the stranger no one sees."
Yikes! Only O'Connor truly knows where autobiography ends and art begins, but the material here could keep a psychiatrist at work for months.
The emotion overwhelms the music, where her once-distinctive sound is now mostly generic, though the album was produced by longtime collaborator and O'Connor's first ex-husband, John Reynolds. The exciting exception is the crashing climax in the song "Harbour."
Her love for music is evident, and she still has considerable talent. But O'Connor here sounds less like a boss and more like a broken woman.