Review: Sinead O’Brien – Drowning In Blessings EP

By Live4ever - Posted on 16 Sep 2020 at 8:04am

Drowning In Blessings 1

Speedy Wunderground are really spoiling us.

Having helped to launch some of the most vital music over the last few years (Squid, black midi, The Lounge Society and Black Country, New Road to name a few), the label have now compiled one of Ireland’s hottest prospect’s recent singles onto one EP.

Yes, the Emerald Isle maintains its outstanding contemporary track record for music, although Sinead O’Brien hasn’t just relied on her heritage. Now based in London having spent time in Paris with Chanel (and now working for Vivienne Westwood), O’Brien found her calling when invited to perform at a spoken word gig at The Windmill in Brixton. Despite being unprepared, the buzz generated from the set caught the attention of no less a luminary than the legendary John Cooper Clarke.

Patronage from the Bard Of Salford should give you some idea of what to expect; less songs, more compelling streams of consciousness in the form of instructions set to music. Working in conjunction with her collaborative partners guitarist Julian Hanson and drummer Oscar Robertson, all four tracks are a compelling listen.

The echo-dripped vocals on Most Modern Painting are striking alongside a clattering stop-start rhythm, a mischievous takedown of social media (‘the conditions for being are changing, who do I address?’), its fidgety and reflects the anxiety caused by the subject matter before slowing to a stop.

There’s some guitar hero stuff going on beneath the surface of Roman Ruins, Hanson showcasing phased guitar with a sheen whilst O’Brien delivers a starkly cold but truthful monologue. The juddering yet rigid Fall With Me allegories as much as it observes the state of the world (‘the cheapest religion is this modern condition’), while the swaying guitar and cantering beat of Strangers In Danger blends the personal experiences of city life with wider reflections on society (‘Solitary revealing moves the meaning of the streets we live on’).

At points it’s hard to keep up. One gets the impression that it wouldn’t really matter if we were listening or not, O’Brien may be just as happy getting these things off her chest without an audience. Sometimes she engages with the melody, sometimes she doesn’t. Either way, the tracks within are fine examples of an artist in total control, with some justified confidence to spare.


Richard Bowes

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