When I was eight years old, my mother, sister, and I were huddled on the sofa watching a brand new show that had just started on ABC. That show was titled “Alias” starring the beautiful and talented Jennifer Garner. This is a spy show, but with a female lead instead. This was something different, as most spy movies and television shows that I had seen up until that point were male oriented. The pilot was phenomenal, and towards the end of the episode there was this moment when she just strolls into her HQ all badass like, delivering a coveted object to her employer, and then casually saying, “I’m taking the week off, I’ve got midterms,” and then just walks out. I will forever remember that scene because of the song playing in the background, which caught my attention and began a thus far lifelong adoration, love, and respect for a particular artist, whose music would help me create my identity. The song was ‘No Man’s Woman’ by none other than the talented Sinéad O’Connor.
Fast forward thirteen years to 2014. I’m now 21, two years into college, and stuck in a job I abhor, all the while still uncertain about who I am as a person. I should also probably add that I started shaving my head when I was about 14 years old, with maybe one or two years of growth thrown in. At this time, I had long tresses because everyone told me that normal girls had long hair and that shaving my head made me look like a boy or a lesbian. So I compiled, because I had a huge fear of rejection and ridicule.
One day I was browsing on YouTube, which was a huge pain in the ass back then, and saw that my idol Sinéad O’Connor had posted a new music video for a song called, ‘Take Me to Church’ off of her new album, I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss. Of course, my interest was piqued so I clicked and watched with immense anticipation.
I was not disappointed.
The video starts with a closeup of just her face, donned in a red-haired wig, surrounded by a black background, illuminated only with projected images of her younger self singing. The opening lyrics reflect on her career and overall musical identity:
I don’t wanna love the way I loved before
I don’t wanna love that way no more
What have I been writing love songs for?
I don’t want to write them anymore
I don’t wanna sing from where I sang before
I don’t wanna sing that way no more
What’ve I been singing love songs for?
I don’t wanna sing them anymore,
I don’t wanna be that girl no more
I don’t wanna cry no more
I don’t wanna die no more
So cut me down from this here tree
Cut the rope from off of me
Sit me on the floor
I’m the only one I should adore
I was immediately entranced, the song becoming this anthem that I interpreted as that she doesn’t want to be defined by her past, only by everything that happens from that moment forward. It all culminates in a bridge crescendo in which she rips off the wig, showing the Sinéad we know and love. This one song made me immediately have to buy the album and it probably was played on repeat at least a thousand times on my daily walks to and from my classes and place of work. It has become my favorite of them all. Don’t get me wrong, classic Sinéad is amazing, but something about this particular album made something stir within me. It also made me start shaving my head again, because that was when I felt most like myself.
It has earned the honor of being the first of my female artist showcase albums of the month because it essentially made me feel like it came from the depths of my very soul. That it was written from the secret thoughts of my own heart.
Whilst ‘Take Me to Church’ was the big single off of the album, other notable songs include:
- ‘The Vishnu Room’
- ‘How About I Be Me’
- ‘8 Good Reasons’
- ‘James Brown’ feat. Seun Kuti
The whole album is amazing, but those particular tracks are among my favorites. I think this is an album that any Sinéad O’Connor fan should own. It is very soulful and intimate, a perfect blend of her old sound and how she has evolved over the years, incorporating her life experiences and putting them to song.
Who exactly is Sinéad O’Connor? Well, Jason Ankeny described her as an:
“Irish alternative singer who combined her distinctive vocal range with striking post-feminist imagery to become an unlikely star.”
Read more about her in his biography: https://www.allmusic.com/artist/sin%C3%A9ad-oconnor-mn0000756180/biography
Want to listen to the album? Here are some links!
Stay tuned for next month’s showcase!
Enjoyed this album showcase? Check out the full archives of our album review series, Vinyl Femmes & RPMs, by Erin O’Dell, here: https://vinylwritermusic.com/vinyl-femmes-rpms-archives/