(12 October 2002) Sean-Nós Nua (Vanguard (USA) 79724-2, 2002)
is the breathtaking new album by Sinéad O'Connor. The album whose title
is roughly translated from the Irish as "old style new way" features a
collection of traditional ballad and folk songs. Produced by Sinéad
O'Connor, Donal Lunny (Máire Brennan and highly respected musician)
and Adrian Sherwood (Massive Attack, Nine Inch Nails and The Cure),
the album also features performances by an array of skilled contemporary
folk musicians including the Waterboys' Steve Wickham (fiddle), Sharon
Shannon (accordion), Cora Venus Lunny (classical violin) and Rob
O'Gheibheannaigh (whistle and banjo), and a duet with Christy Moore.
Exhibiting a determination and creativity characateristic of the
Irish, Sinéad O'Connor has never feared to approach different
musical styles. In fact, as an artist, she has tackled everything
from jazz to rock and has lent her voice to various "world" and
"electronica" porjects (including Afro-Celt Sound System,
Conjure One (review),
and the soon-to-be-released Massive Attack album). However, with
Sean-Nós Nua, Sinead's voice finds an affinity with the music
that has never been heard before. Singing the songs of her own
culture, Sinéad's voice reaches new and sublime heights.
Despite her sometimes colorful public image, it would be difficult
to deny that Sinéad O'Connor is one of the most gifted singers of
our time. Like Annie Lennox or Joni Mitchell, Sinéad is that rare
performer whose voice is singularly her own, possessing a quality
that can only be described as "unearthly."
At times on Sean-Nós Nua, Sinéad's performance is so evocative
that it reaches the level of hallucinogenic. Her voice seems to embody
the fears and desires of thousands of people before her. Although some
fans may be slightly surprised by the direction Sinéad O'Connor has
taken, they really owe it to themselves to sit down and take a listen
to what is an exquisitely crafted musical recording.
The Irish have a penchant for writing songs that entwine the issues
of deep love and deep loss. Songs like the tender and forelorn "Peggy
Gordon" and the ever-lovely "The Moorlough Shore" feel as though they
were specifically written with Sinéad's voice in mind--and her grasp
of the emotional content is such that Sinéad is able to generate
massive chills in the listener through her vocal delivery.
Other tracks, including "Her Mantle So Green" and "The Parting
Glass" are more joyful pieces that will inspire within any listener
the desire to immediately book a flight on Aer Lingus for a trip to
Ireland. Again, Sinéad knows her material and fantastically animates
these songs with her own unique style.
It is also a pleasure to hear Sinéad sing in her native tongue on
two tracks: the assertive "Oro, SeDo Bheatha Bhaile"--a song about
the legendary Irish female pirate, Grace O'Malley--and the melodic
"Baidin Fheilimi"--which tells the sad fate of the fisherman Fheilimy,
whose little boat was wrecked off the island of Tory. Other
well-known songs like "Molly Mallone," "Paddy's Lament," and
"My Lagan Love" are given perfect treatment by Sinéad O'Connor.
Sean-Nós Nua will, no-doubt, appeal to fans of traditional
Irish music. However, Sinéad O'Connor has done the world a large favor
by reinterpreting these songs for a more modern and younger audience.
After listening to Sean Nos Nua, it is not hard to see why Sinéad
O'Connor has remained a formidable musical talent after so many years,
and why the songs of Ireland are still so intriguing after so many
Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from
albums by Sinéad O'Connor, Sean-Nós Nua will delight our readers.
Worth a trans-Atlantic journey, this one is a must listen!