The Lion and the Cobra. It's hard to believe this
record is by the same woman who did
album, Sinead O'Connor spat out lyrics with a barely checked rage. In the
following six years, O'Connor has had to deal with a million-selling single, the
apparent inability to follow it up, the "Star-Spangled Banner" incident, the
bald chick jokes, the Pope controversy, a failed suicide attempt and even the
threat of an ass-kicking from Ol' Blue Eyes.
On The Universal Mother,
her first album of original material in four years, O'Connor frankly sounds
whipped -- which, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. Musically,
despair can be every bit as strong an emotion as anger -- even stronger.
If The Lion and the Cobra had a strong bullying power, The Universal
Mother has a frail, affecting feel.
Even on songs that show musical
power like the dance tune "Fire On Babylon," the voice seems ready to shatter at
any moment. The one major blunder here is remaking Nirvana's "All
Apologies." I know it's supposed to be a tribute to a fellow lost spirit,
but frankly O'Connor's voice doesn't do the lyrics justice. As for the
song's softer acoustic background, well, Tori Amos did it first and did it
better with her piano version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
The Universal Mother does work because it is so heartfelt and born of pain. (11/94)