The idea that Sinead O’Connor is merely a one-hit wonder is one that should be abolished. The tracks on “Collaborations” throw this idea out the video, as track after track finds O’Connor working at eir peak with some of the biggest names in music, including but not limited to Peter Gabriel, Moby, The Edge and Afro Celt Sound System. The different tracks elicit something different from O’Connor each time; a haunting set of vocals greets listeners from the ska/reggae-influenced “1000 Mirrors”, a collaboration with Asian Dub Foundation.
However different the tracks on “Collaborations” may be, what will immediately strike listeners is how aurally similar that O’Connor’s voice sounds to another dominant singer, Tori Amos. While there is nothing remotely similar to the trademark piano of Amos’s, there are more than capable individuals providing instrumentation (for example, Bomb The Bass). Some of the best tracks on “Collaborations” are those that have O’Connor’s vocals in a non-traditional way. For example, “Visions Of You” (a Jan Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart track) has the male set of vocals interspersed with O’Connor, with both taking equal shares of the track moving back and forth from vocal to lyrical uses of their voices. What is really interesting is the fact that one of the tracks that should be mind-blowing and a true experience – Sinead’s work with U2 during “I’m Not Your Baby” is surprisingly sedate, with none of the guitar pomp or catchy lyrics traditionally associated with a U2 song.
In fact, aside from the notable exception of the Afro Celt Sound System, the trend is that the tracks incorporating O’Connor with a lesser-known act (Conjure One, Invaders of the Heart, Bomb The Bass) are stronger than those with more famous acts (U2, Peter Gabriel). The compilation of this disc is perhaps one of the stronger found in what is essentially a “greatest hits” of these duets/combined tracks; much foresight was given to combining the large amount of reggae/ska influenced tracks during the most traversed period of the disc. Even if it is more sedate, special note must be given to the almost-whispered out interplay of vocals between Peter Gabriel and O’Connor during “Blood of Eden”, especially in terms of the wonderful, dreamy melody that the two create. The tracks were conceived during the span of a number of years, but the compilation really allows the disc to be taken as a cohesive album; Sinead O’Connor could conceivably tour using this music in the current period and still wow.
Top Tracks: Asian Dub Foundation Featuring Sinead O’Connor’s “1000 Mirrors” / Ghostland’s “Guide Me God”
Sinead O’Connor – Collaborations / 2005 EMI / 17 Tracks / http://www.sinead-oconnor.com / http://www.emi.com / Reviewed 16 July 2005