Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Are You Listening?

I'm not asking you the question in the title - but of course I hope you are - rather it is the title of the début solo album by Dolores O'Riordan.

It has been a long time coming but for those of you that can't remember that far back she was the voice of Irish band 'The Cranberries'. I had largely forgotten about them too, but something or other recently reminded me that I didn't actually own any of their albums, even though I was familiar with some of their songs, and I pondered buying a compilation album that sounded quite promising but at about the same time this album became known to me.

'The Cranberries' has now sold over forty million albums, being more successful in the US than in the UK so she, as both vocalist and main songwriter, is unlikely to be under financial pressure to record an album, and furthermore she is married (since 1994 to Don Burton, the former manager of Duran Duran) with three kids, aged 9, 6 and 2, so you can imagine there might well be plenty of competing calls on her time!

To say that this is a case of "better late than never" is to do it a severe injustice - I strongly suspect that it is better because it has evolved over time. Yes it has undercurrents of 'The Cranberries', but is far more than a pale reinterpretation of that era and in particular, when songs demand it, the instruments can be quite strident - but not to the point that they ever swamp the vocals - in fact the main flashback is just how good her vocals were then, and given absolute freedom that they are now even better.
This is still an album likely to sell better in the US I suspect, but there is nothing wrong with that. If the rumours that Andrea Corr is planning a solo career
are true, then this might be seen as a very clear shot across the bow; a warning that there will be competition for the market in Irish influenced pop and that elders might be betters!

On the basis of "Are You Listening?" I suspect it will be so because it has some surprises in store.
Track 6 - Stay With Me, with
its plaintive verses, huge chorus and general mood is simply the best song that Evanesence didn't write for their first album, Fallen (2004).
That is probably not what almost anyone would have suspected from this release and it certainly surprised me. At other moments it also reminded me, in some ways, of the tracks Isobel and I'm No Angel both from the album "No Angel" by Dido, possibly because she was also influenced by The Cranberries?

My overall opinion:
If you like the kinds of music above then buy it. This is yet another 2007 album that I have come across rather unexpectedly and another that I have no option but to like!

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