I was a huge fan of Sinéad’s first album. And I liked her second one too (the one that made her a star). I even followed her through a few of her later albums (while she was getting a bit more publicly odd). But then it just got to be too much work (she released a bunch of albums which I couldn’t keep up with).
But this album promised to be a nice return to form. And so it is–her voice sounds great and there’s many of the elements of good ol’ Sinéad here–the jangly guitars, great backing vocals and awesome mixture of gentleness and rage that really marks Sinéad’s best work.
“4th and Vine” is a boppy reggaeish song about love and marriage. It’s nice to hear that kind of cheer from Sinéad (even if it didn’t all work out). It’s followed by “Reason with Me” a sympathetic song from the POV of a junkie who plans to call that number one of these days. “Old Lady” is a simply beautiful song–in which you can really hear how well Sinéad’s voice has stood up through all the troubles she’s been through. But more than that, when the guitars kick in, you can hear that she still has the chops to write a great song.
“Take Off Your Shoes” is one of those great Sinead songs that gives you chills. I’m not sure what she’s on about with the blood of Jesus and all, but when the song kicks in and “you’re running out of battery” wow, what a great song. “Back Where You Belong” is one of Sinéad’s more delicate songs–a plea for peace from men on behalf of boys–the chorus is soaring and gorgeous.
“The Wolf is Getting Married” is being released as a second single this month (good for an album to have that long of a shelf life). It starts a little slow but once the verse really starts it’s pure Sinéad–that guitar backing is just like Sinéad’s earlier hits). And the lyrics, which are simple enough, are fun to sing with. “Queen of Denmark” is a stunning, vulgar track that is really amazing. It’s great to hear her when she is passionate and angry and indeed here she is–soaring voice and loud guitars and all.
“Very Far from Home” and “I Had a Baby” are sweet songs, they are enjoyable, but feel like decent end-of-disc songs, especially after the power of “Denmark.” The final track, “V.I.P.” ends the disc quietly, with a gently sung, almost a capella track about the true nature of very important people. The song ends with a whispered prayer and a chuckle. It’s a really solid album and I’ve enjoyed listening to it many times (but I really don’t like the cover).
Perhaps, as my friend Louise has been telling me all along, I should check out those discs that I missed.
[READ: February 1, 2013] Snuff
I can’t believe I have two books in a row that deal so largely with poo!
Terry Pratchett is back with Snuff (actually, he has a book of short stories and a new novel named Dodger since Snuff came out). Sarah gave me this for Christmas two years ago and I have just gotten around to reading it. Which is a surprise as I love Pratchett and have read all of his books (for the most part).
This book seemed a little big. It is 400 pages, as long as Unseen Academicals, and I was a little daunted by it. But as soon as I read the first few pages (again, no chapters here, just section breaks), I was back in the world of Commander Vimes (or arch Duke or something) and back in Discworld.
Commadner Vimes is a wonderful character–a policeman who is street smart and very wise, even if he’s not proper smart. He’s an excellent everyman character and the kind of person you wish was running things in your town. Or someone else’s town. For Vimes is off on vacation to the Shire, the childhood home of his wife Lady Sybil. And Vimes is out of his element (which is always funny). And he also senses that something is amiss here in the idyllic countryside. So, despite Sybil’s gentle warnings to be on vacation and come in and be social, Vimes is on the case.
The case, as it were, is about goblins. Goblins are a new race in Discworld. Everyone always treated goblins like vermin–they smell bad, they steal chickens, they live underground they are worthless. And the goblins seem to agree (well, that’s what generations of maltreatment will do to your self-respect). But Vimes gets mixed up in a murder–and when a goblin pleads for mercy but is killed anyway, that is murder vermin or not. And when Vimes discovers that goblins can talk, emote and, indeed, play the harp–well that makes them a little less verminous, no?
Wait, what’s this got to do with poo? Well, Miss Felicity Beedle, Discworld’s premier children’s author, has written a book called The World of Poo (which is actually for sale on its own too, ha) which Young Sam Vimes loves. It is his favorite book after Beedle’s earlier book Wee. And so Young Sam is off collecting samples of poo to dissect, and the Shire is a great place for it. Well, when Vimes meets Beedle, he learns that in addition to being a children’s book author, Beedle has been teaching goblins how to be more…well, not human exactly, but more approachable to humans so that they may be recognized as valuable creatures.
Of course there is no law against slaughtering goblins–they are vermin after all, but Vimes knows what’s right. And he sets out to make things right (with the help of Lady Sybil who has always been for justice no matter how rich she may be). It helps, of course, that some of the main culprits are also responsible for a host of other nefarious deeds as well.
So much of this book takes place away from Ankh-Morpork and that may be why the book feels a little slow. Vimes is, as a I said, a great character, and Pratchett continues to make him more and more rounded, but as he grows more worldy and sophisticated, he becomes a bit more ponderous. So there’s a lot more thinking and talking and a lot less banter. Of course, when the banter works it’s wonderful (every interaction between Vimes and his gentleman’s gentleman Willikins is amazing, and every interaction with Lady Sybil is wonderful–he truly gets a powerful woman). Vimes also gets a new copper to help him out. Feeney’s father was a local copper, but everyone things of Feeney as Young Feeney, a copper to be ignored. Until Vimes gets a hold of him.
But there are visits to Ankh-Morpork and the book really comes to life there–the old favorites all make appearances and all help in some way. It’s also great to see Lord Vetinari at the end. It feels like when Pratchett has all of the different characters interacting, the story really flows.
Which is not to say that the story isn’t exiting–there’s a lengthy dangerous sequence on a barge which is very exciting, and the whole goblin underworld is fascinating and well thought out. There’s just something…not as great about this book. I enjoyed it very much but it felt really long. Like when I had 100 pages left I couldn’t believe that there were 100 pages left. And while none of those pages felt extraneous, the whole thing felt like maybe there were just too many ideas in it? I’m not really sure.
I’m certainly glad I read it and I liked a lot in it (and I love the depth of character that Vimes now possesses) and yes it was even very funny. But it wasn’t my favorite Discworld. And I just realized that Death didn’t make an appearance. Is this the first Discworld book to exclude Death?
For ease of searching I include: Sinead O’ Connor