Sinead O’Connor, I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss (Nettwerk Records) ****

Sinead O’Connor, I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss (Nettwerk Records) ****

Sinead O’Connor, I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss (Nettwerk Records) ****

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YES, that is Sinead O'Connor in Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman leathers and Uma Thurman's Pulp Fiction wig on the sleeve of her tenth studio album, I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss.

This is the same Sinead O'Connor who shaved off her hair to defy any record attempts to shape her into a pop nymph in 1988. Ironically she takes control now by doing the reverse: the Jessie J look for Sinead O, the Irish chanteuse from "a different time, different space", who says "it's real uncomfortable to be stuck somewhere you just don't belong".

As it happens, she has just made the best record of her erratic, vexatious, controversial career at the age of 47. "You know I love to make music, but my head get wrecked by the business," she sings on 8 Good Reasons, the signature song from which all these quotes are drawn.

This time she just sticks to making the music, head in the right place, heart worn on both sleeves, especially on a song that addresses past thoughts of suicide.

"I don't much like life," she reveals. We kinda knew that anyway, but singing heightens the emotion, and you always sense that Sinead is only at home in the cocoon of a song, be she singing potently, fiercely, on The Voice Of My Doctor or with tenderness on the fragile, sparse Streetcars.

John Reynolds, who produced Sinead's kinetic first album, has done a brilliant production job once more on songs of sex, love, snogging, religion, bad behaviour and James Brown that will make you smile, laugh, cheer, even cry. How right Sinead was to make a late switch of title from The Vishnu Room, in honour of the Hindu deity, to the much more in-your-face "Boss" to match the damned demeanour.

"I've got 8 Good reasons to stick around, well maybe nine now," she sings. Make that ten because this is one of the albums of the year. Contrary outsider she may be, but this is the inside track on a woman who has finally worked out who she is.

 

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