However, it is important to judge an artist's work as objectively as possible, resisting temptations to MAKE yourself like someone's mediocre new record. We do our favorite artist no real favor when we fawn over some crap.
Also, if you are impressed with, say, Steel Wheels, then you couldn't have much REAL appreciation for a true Stones classic. This only gives them license to toss out a half-ass record- which is understandable if they get as much praise for something they could toss off in their sleep as they would for sweating blood to create their best work.
Even being demanding though, Sinead's new Faith and Courage album is pretty good. Not her very best, but this is a worthwhile piece of work. Every song has some kind of hook, and personality. She definitely putting out a real effort. Most of the songs are not especially memorable, but there is something to recommend about every one.
Two songs really stand out of the pack, though, and justify the whole record. The lead single, "No Man's Woman," is just a really good pop song. You could argue that the song is perhaps somewhat lyrically cliched and strident, undeniably catchy and well crafted but less than emotionally deep. About that time though, she hits the bridge part ("cause I'm tired of it..."). I have repeatedly found myself taking a sharp breath and paying attention at that point, just a visceral reaction to that piece of melody. Uncle. You got me.
The real centerpiece track is "Daddy I'm Fine." I grow weary of the constant mundane autobiographical lyrics of many serious songwriters, but this is a particularly interesting lyric. Some inseparable part of this comes from the extra-musical context. It doesn't come up in the song at all, but Sinead came out of the closet as a lesbian just as she was putting out this album. Yet in this telling of her tale, the main thrust of the chorus has her feeling all sexy under the stage lights, like she wants to "fuck every man in sight."
He is referred to only briefly, but the title frames the whole song as a note to reassure her father. It seems that after all the psycho dramas and coming out, she doesn't want daddy to think she's just some poor miserable dyke.
The words are interesting, but no lyric can make a song memorable lacking actual MUSIC. She comes up with a verse, chorus and bridge section that are each really good alone, and build together beautifully from the gentility of the verse to the pure roar of the climax as she waxes ecstatic over the joys of motherhood.
Plus she has all kinds of unusual things going on in the arrangement, the flutes and the house bass, and lots of other things. I don't know of any other song ever that SOUNDS like this. To me, that's fairly high praise. Moreover, the sounds work. They fit together organically, like they belong together, rather than seeming like some contrivance.
In the scheme of things, this album is not the place to start listening to Sinead. If you don't have The Lion and the Cobra, that is absolutely the place to start. It will hold its own against any album in the rock era, including even Sgt. Pepper. Her second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, has her big hit single and would overall be the second most album of the Sinead catalog. Faith and Courage would be a likely candidate for the third best album she's done.
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