Guardian review of "Sean-Nos Nua"

Sinead O'Connor: Sean-Nos Nua
Three stars
(Hummingbird Records)

Betty Clarke
Friday October 4, 2002
The Guardian

After facing her personal demons on 2000's Faith and Courage, Sinead O'Connor seeks to make peace with her country. But, just as her relationship with Ireland has been one fraught with deep affection and passionate scorn, her interpretation of these traditional Irish songs - embracing subtle nods to reggae and electronica - is set against the conflicting agendas of history and personal belief. O'Connor has chosen songs usually sung by men, subverting brazen confidence into a tender examination of loss and separation. Her Mantle So Green is brisk with joy, but tells of a young soldier testing his lover by pretending to be dead. Though Molly Malone is sung with quiet dignity, O'Connor's trademark ferocity bubbles under the placid surface. Most poignant is Paddy's Lament, describing how starvation sent hopeful Irishmen to America. "When we got to Yankee land, they put guns into our hand," O'Connor spits, her venom tangible. Despite the whistles and fiddles, and sudden flash of Def Leppard style guitar, O'Connor's attempt to wrestle Irish lyricism away from Daniel O'Donnell can only be welcomed.