Idol Chatter

potter_idol.jpgPerhaps no singer brings more spiritual baggage to a CD entitled “Theology” than controversial Irish songstress Sinead O’Connor. The singer, who tore up a picture of the Pope on “Saturday Night Live” years ago and claimed once to be ordained as a priest, has always mentioned religion and God in some way or another in her music over the years. However, “Theology,” in stores tomorrow, reveals a softer, more peaceful Sinead whose passion is not to create art for controversy’s sake, but to create a loving reflection on the nature of God.
Unlike previous efforts where O’Connor’s songs were often a religious mix of paganism, rastafarianism and catholicism, O’Connor’s approach on “Theology” is considerably more focused. Eight of the songs are directly inspired from the Old Testament, while she deliberately avoids New Testament references to Jesus (unless you count the cover of “I don’t know how to love him” from “Jesus Christ Superstar”).
O’ Connor also makes the important distinction in several songs that while her desire to earnestly seek God and have a relationship with Him is real, she still holds some of the man-made tenants of religion at arm’s length. And while there may be the slightest political tinge to songs like “The Glory of Jah” and “If U had a Vineyard,” it is with a lack of anger and despair–and with an eye to God’s sovereignty.

What really distinguishes the spiritual nature of this album are the deeply prayerful songs. “Something Beautiful” is a heartfelt cry for God to help her use her abilities to create something meaningful, and “Out of the Depths” is a humble, childlike reflection on a desire to know God and be used by Him without the restraints of formal religion. This is where “Theology” shines and is probably its most accessible to people who are not famiiar with her work–or who haven’t been big fans of her work in the past.
Still, whether or not “Theology” in either of its versions (one disc contains her sparsely arranged Dublin sessions while the second disc features the more orchestrated London sessions) will place O’Connor along side the ranks of Bob Dylan as a folksy, obtuse modern prophet is certainly questionable. I don’t think her work will play in the contemporary Christian music market because of her controversial past and her refusal to “Jesus” up her work. And early reviews by major magazines like Rolling Stone don’t seem to take a shine to this latest evolution of her work. But if you are willing to listen to her music and words without suppositions or labels, and instead let the worshipful nature of this CD wash over you, “Theology” is a worthwhile, inspirational musical experience.

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