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Cool Spin: Sinead O’Connor, ‘I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss’ (Nettwerk)

Hardly anyone writes about Sinead O’Connor and doesn’t mention some personal or political controversy, but her music is so worthy of unqualified praise. The new album, I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss, is intimate, emotional, sensual—focused on the reverb-laden, chorused vocals that have been the hallmark of O’Connor’s best records. She and her producer, John Reynolds, are masters at creating vocal dynamics. Sweet, layered vocal harmonies are undercut by a banshee wail in dark moments, or those harmonies will peel away to reveal her startling, raw unprocessed howl, or a whisper. What’s actually shocking about O’Connor is the depth of love and anguish she’s able to convey with her wondrous and explosive songs. Open your ears and forget the rest.

Producer/engineer: John Reynolds. Mixed by Reynolds and Tim Oliver. Additional engineering: Graham Bolger. Studio: New Air Studios (London). Mastering: Kevin Metcalfe/Soundmasters (London).