- 06 Aug 14
Sinéad takes control on gloriously matriarchal new LP.
Sinéad O’Connor’s new album, I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss, marks her 30th anniversary in the music business. Following 2012’s eclectic How About I Be Me (And You Be You), I’m Not Bossy feels like a much more cohesive collection of pop, rock and funk.
The record is chiefly concerned with romantic love, presented from the perspective of a middle-aged woman. That, in itself, is highly unusual: as women mature past 40, the culture of western patriarchy divests us of our sexual and romantic potency; this at the very time our sexual drive should by rights increase, as our energy levels are diverted from childbearing towards our own gratification.
According to Sinéad, the only autobiographical song on this record is the opener ‘How About I Be Me’. Here Sinéad’s expression of her desire ‘to be a real full woman’, ‘to find what I’m dreaming of, a sweet man to cling to’, culminates in a sentiment every straight single mother can relate to: “Always gotta be the lioness/ Taking care of everybody else/ A woman like me needs love/ A woman like me needs a man to be/ Stronger than herself.”
From here, we move through various aspects of love and desire, from the masturbatory fantasy of ‘Denser Water Deeper Down’ to the insecure adoration of the beloved male in ‘The Vishnu Room’. She contemplates unrequited love on ‘Your Green Jacket’, where the woman’s passion for the unattainable man is woken through her sense of smell (she inhales deeply from a jacket he has left in her home). ‘The Voice Of My Doctor’ steps up the pace, as the character gets her revenge on an unfaithful married man who has tricked her into bed. “Oh you’ve gone and let another fool make a fool out of you!” wails Sinéad, sounding at her most dangerous.
As in much of O’Connor’s work (and indeed, her life), paradox and contradiction are integral to I’m Not Bossy. Bossiness may be evoked in the title, but what the female characters in this record yearn for are strong men they can trust to take control. With ‘Take Me To Church’, the storming first single, O’Connor seems determined to contradict the record’s overarching themes. Here the female characters choose to love and adore themselves, and the divine within – instead of seeking love from a man.
While most of the tracks on I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss are tender and vulnerable, Sinéad is ever the feminist. The fist may be clad in angora, but it still punches through the propaganda that aims to diminish the power of woman. In I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss, we’ve been gifted another great record from a talent who stays true to her always-evolving vision.
OUT AUGUST 8.