Sinead O’Connor’s not angry anymore; or at least not angry in the same way. Her tearing up of a photo of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live 15 years ago has combined with what we think we know about her ordination into an unofficial offshoot of the Catholic church to give a convenient excuse for people to ignore her. This is a pity, because it makes us forget that she produced one of the only memorably and honest songs about love in the 1990s with her cover version of Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’; and one of the most beautiful hymns of spiritual comfort in 1997’s ‘This is to Mother You’ on her ‘Gospel Oak’ EP.
She has made her spirituality more explicit than ever on ‘Theology’ a new double album; and the anger of early Sinead has given way to songs of hope, confidence, and worship. In 23 tracks she sings of God being present in the earthiness of a life lived between the search for truth and the struggle to get by – when she relates how God met ‘my need on a chronic Christmas Eve’ it is easy to imagine the pain that many people feel at the times when the culture is forcing them to pretend to be happy.
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