I’ll be honest, I’ve never listened to ‘90s songstress Sinead O’Connor until now. In a way, I think that gives me an advantage as a listener and critic; I’m not listening to her as a loyal fan, so I can say impartially that her latest effort, I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss, is quite superb.
The album itself is pure self-indulgence. It’s aggressive and cutting with its electric guitar melodies (see: “Harbour”). Its lyrics are heavy on themes of love, sex and desire (see: practically every song). But most of all, I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss is assertive, like its title. O’Connor even dedicated the album to herself, which speaks volumes about how after more than 20 years of impassioned music-making, controversies and several marriages, she will always be true to herself and how she feels.
Take “How About I Be Me.” Though masked by her initial talk of wanting to “make love like a real full woman,” the song eventually digresses to show what’s really at the heart of it—she’s tired of being strong, and giving love, and she just wants to be loved and be herself, even if that self is outwardly passionate and confused. O’Connor’s contradictory nature is echoed throughout the rest of the album in songs “Kisses Like Mine” and “James Brown,” one being about her flighty nature in terms of love while the other is an overtly sexual anthem inspired by James Brown’s song “The Boss”: “I’m sorry but I came to get down.”
She’s unapologetically herself on every track, even on the darker, Hamlet-esque anthem “8 Good Reasons.” At the same time, O’Connor is highly commercial as a musician; she sounds fresh and new, even though she’s been around forever. I haven’t heard enough of her older material to discern whether or not she’s reinventing herself, but if O’Connor continues to churn out albums like I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss, I’ll keep listening to her when she’s 80.
In A Word: Fresh