Album: Sinead O'Connor

Throw Down Your Arms, SANCTUARY
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The Independent Culture

Last year, Sinead O'Connor announced that henceforth she would be recording only spiritual music - as if she had somehow neglected that side of her art so far. Throw Down Your Arms is the first fruit of this "new" approach, a Sly & Robbie-produced anthology of roots-reggae songs by the likes of Peter Tosh, Lee Perry, and especially Winston "Burning Spear" Rodney, perhaps the most pulpitious (to coin a term) of Rasta sermonisers. O'Connor, of course, has a deeply held affinity with Rastafarianism - the whole tearing-up-the-Pope's-photo-on-US-telly brouhaha that crippled her career in America a decade ago occurred during a performance of Bob Marley's "War", which also concludes this album in stern, declamatory fashion. At the other extreme is the breathy, intimate whisper she employs on Lee Perry's classic schoolgirl affirmation "Curly Locks", whose gender structure she scrambles with aplomb. Spear's songs are front-loaded, the album opening with an a capella version of "Jah Nuh Dead", while a lamb-innocent "He Prayed" is underscored with a lovely, plaintive flute. His roots staple "Marcus Garvey" is also given a respectable run-through, with the advantage that for the first time in more than a dozen versions, I can discern the entire lyric clearly.

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