Arts

ALBUM REVIEW | pop

Sinead O’Connor, 'How About I Be Me (and You Be You)?'

In the title query of the Irish singer-songwriter’s latest album, the “I’’ in question could be a variety of different people. Is it the fire-breathing, indignant wailer of her galvanizing 1987 debut, “The Lion and the Cobra’’? The reverent reggae disciple of 2005’s “Throw Down Your Arms’’? The sultry torch singer of 1992’s “Am I Not Your Girl?’’ It is all those things and more. O’Connor is having another turbulent go of it at the moment as a public figure, but as a musician, “How About’’ is a stunning rebirth of engagement. Produced by longtime collaborator John Reynolds, O’Connor sounds more alive and confident than she has in a long time. The album includes joyous love songs, keening acoustic numbers, and hymn-like ballads. Its twin peaks come in the form of acrid-to-comic-to-poignant cover of John Grant’s “Queen of Denmark’’ - a song perfectly matched to a singer - and the slow burn to a scorching bonfire of “Take Off Your Shoes.’’ A couple of pleasant but less memorable midtempo numbers are saved by O’Connor’s still towering voice, one that conjures rage, humor, grief, joy, and unbridled passion in a way that still grips the heart and amazes the ears. (Out today) SARAH RODMAN


ESSENTIAL “Take Off Your Shoes’’

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