Sinéad O'Connor knows how to keep her fans guessing. First she's an ethereal crooner, then a Pope-hating renegade. Then a lesbian, a priest, a Gaelic-serenading mother. And 'member how last year she was suddenly a Rasta who, against all odds, released a solid reggae album?
Now O'Connor's come out with Theology, a double-disc collection of spiritual songs: original rewrites of psalms, a Curtis Mayfield track and, just to fuck with us, a tune from Jesus Christ Superstar, recorded with contrasting arrangements in Dublin and London. And while 22 tracks of O'Connor cooing about glory and peaceful pastures may sound like a self-indulgent nightmare (especially since Theology really only features 12 different songs - each disc has one tune not on the other), it's actually very, very lovely.
Disc One, the Dublin Sessions, is the stronger of the pair. O'Connor's thick brogue and heartfelt delivery hover beautifully over simple fingerpicked guitar arrangements of psalms that feel less like church songs than they do like lullabies. The poppier London Sessions are interesting - especially the sweetly sombre cover of I Don't Know How To Love Him - but a too dense in comparison to the more delicate versions.