When Sinead O’Connor set off to make Theology (out June 26), she began with the notion of recording acoustic-only versions—just her and a guitar, the way she performs some of her live encores. But just as she and producer Steve Cooney were capturing intimate versions of these beautiful new songs, O’Connor was also working with producer Ron Tom with the idea of recording a future project in the way most of her albums have been made: combining hip hop beats with orchestral strings and electric guitars as a backdrop for the singer’s magnificent, reverb-magnified voice. O’Connor found herself totally attached to both versions of this album, and so she’s releasing both. It’s easy to see why; the acoustic disc 1 (dubbed the Dublin Sessions) and electric disc 2 (London Sessions) are equally intoxicating. The acoustic disc is simple and sweet, with delicate guitar work and pure focus on song and voice. Disc 2 is by turns shining and moody, and includes the first UK single (a song that’s not on Disc 1), O’Connor’s version of the Rice/Webber opus from Jesus Christ Superstar, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” More exemplary of the compositions on this double-CD is the U.S. single, “Something Beautiful,” which O’Connor says she wrote as a sort of prayer for the inspiration to create something beautiful in a dangerous world. The overall feeling on Theology is somehow simultaneously personal and Biblical. Most important, whether acoustic or electric, O’Connor’s sound is unmistakable and always remarkable.
LISTEN: Must Play
Jeremiah (Something Beautiful)
Producers: Sinead O’Connor, Steve Cooney, Ron Tom. Engineers: Graham Bolger, Ron Tom, George Renwick. Studios: Windmill Lane (Dublin) Mayfair Recording Studios (London). Mastering: Disc 1—Bob Katz/Digital Domain (Altamonte Springs, FL); Disc 2—Chaz Harper/Battery Studios (NYC).