Sinead’s second album is considerably more self-assured and even than her debut, though it’s lacking a bit of the energy of the debut and, also, the pure shock factor of a woman so young seeming like such a self-assured songwriter and performer. And like the debut, it hasn’t dated that well, but that’s sort of to be expected from records from 1990.
The songwriting is more consistent than the first time out, in my mind. Specifically I think her lyrics have improved overall, particularly when she criticizes the words of musicians who have romanticized a place she sees as still horribly unequal. Of course, there are some contradictions, perhaps deliberate, such as with the title track which, though it embodies a noble sentiment, is quite at odds with some of the other songs, such as the album’s most famous track and one of only two covers. (I suspect the contradiction is deliberate as I think Sinead is intelligent enough to understand she lives in contradiction like we all do.)
I agree with the sentiment that a few more of the ballads should be A Capella. The title track makes it pretty clear that she can carry any song on its own and, 30 years later, it helps contrast against the somewhat overproduced songs that fill out the record.
It’s not her fault – it was very much the flavour of the time – and the funky drummer all over the album was much less of a cliche in 1990 than it would be in, say, 1997. And the production is much more restrained than it could be. Still, I do think one of my only nitpicks with the record is the production. The album would sound more timeless without the electronic percussion, funky drummer and ’80s keyboards.
But, on the whole, it’s pretty damn good. I do wonder how her career would have unfolded without the Pope picture-ripping and stuff, because she should be viewed as one of the great talents of her era and she definitely isn’t.