It's understandable to approach Sinead O'Connor's ninth album with a certain amout of trepidation and cynical curiosity. This, after all, Sinead O'Connor -- the popular perception of overwrought oddball airing her grievances and personal foibles like some defiant raw nerve. But the Irish songwriter has mellowed and matured over her 25-year career and her newest How About I Be Me (and You Be You) (February 21, One Little Indian) confirms what we've always found so inexplicably compelling despite the quirks. Quality albums always come down to quality songwriting and performances and O'Connor's first full length in five years has an abundance of both. The sweeping melodies of "Reason With Me" and stunning album closer "V.I.P" are assured and impassioned. "Old Lady" seques from lovely folk melody to churning, tightly controlled rocker while "Back Where You Belong" shimmers with waves of warmth and unwavering emotional connection. Focused and confident, O'Connor clearly has something to say: about love, about life, about spirituality. But it's the way she says it -- and sings of it -- that makes How About I Be Me such a fine and surprisingly moving album.
Sinead O'Connor - "Back Where You Belong" (from How About I Be Me)
Sinead O'Connor - "Reason With Me" (from How About I Be Me)
Stream the full album at NPR