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3.5 out of 5 stars16
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 28 June 2007
O'Connor is doing here much what she did on her seminal "I Do Not Want" from 1990, particularly with the classic "I Am Stretched On Your Grave" : she's taking ancient (and oft-forgotten) poetry and cleverly adapting it to contemporary sensibilities with a HUGE dose of reverence. Some reviewers have moaned about "lack of melody," but I wonder if these people realize that she is adapting the Psalms, which have been liturgical chant for centuries.

Let's face it: Sting's new medieval disc is not "melodic" in the modern pop sense at all, but HE gets kudos when O'Connor is singing far more ancient, far more substantial material and adapting it with careful reverence?

Formulaic "pop-tart melody" is not applicable to this kind of structure. The songs require reverence, care, and faithfulness to the source-material. Gregorian chant doesn't have "melody" in the watered-down contemporary sense, but it's still astonishingly beautiful music.

Moreover, O'Connor delivers the Psalms with PLENTY of melodic lilt and just enough experimentation here--without divorcing herself from the power contained in the source material. Her voice is better than ever, like the proverbial fine wine, with so much gravitas and emotion. The purity of tone is unquestionable. The melodic settings she has created for these songs soar and uplift the way a truly proper treatment of ancient spiritual anthems SHOULD.

I wonder whether much bias against this record is really foucused upon an automatic dismissal of spiritual music, in and of itself. Disc One is raw and strictly acoustic as O'Connor presents these "psalms" as emotional chants, if you will. The effect is not lessened because they do not have formulaic "pop" melodies. On the contrary, the stay-true-to-the-source (or nature of the source) approach makes her effort all the more stunning. Beautiful, beautiful music--full of meaning (for those inclined to "listen") and sonically beyond reproach.

The same songs on Disc 2 are presented with driving pop/rock gusto, while remaining equally true to the non-formulaic presentation of this sort of material. Some have complained about the arrangements on Disc 2, but the arrangements are hardly improper. Electric guitars, horns, strings, percussion--all are at the service of the songs in a majestic way, and form "beds" for the songs in a refreshingly free-spirited, melismatic fashion that I think is perfect for this kind of musical offering. What a disservice to the producer and the ACTUAL musicians to compare it to karaoke. Simply unwarranted, jejeune, and untenable. They "lift" the songs, rather than overwhelm them, and that is the key here. It all adds up to a remarkably beautiful, powerful record. And I'm sorry, but there is nothing 'dated' about a solid electric guitar riff, or a militantly strong drumline, or orchestral strings. One of the themes of this album is the offering of hope & thanks with instruments--the pop/rock brushstrokes on this disc do EXACTLY what they need to do. It's rootsy and earthy in the best possible way.

This is an album that was destined to polarize not only because of O'Connor's persona, but because of the subject matter. Little wonder that half the critics praise the work as a thing of great beauty and the other half respond with curiously toothless, uninformed bile.

In the end, the only thing that matters is that it SOUNDS uplifting and awe-inspiring in an increasingly jaded, cynical, plasticized landscape. Little wonder it will be so misunderstood. If you want safe, formulaic "pop," buy Paris Hilton's record. If you listen without prejudice, however, this album speaks with delicious authority and unprecedented beauty. This is all the more timely due to the many people who will dismiss it out-of-hand. It's wheat from the chaff time, and no mistake.

CHOICE TRACKS: "Something Beautiful" (Disc 2: Powerful, vintage O'Connor at her hymnic best); "If You Had A Vineyard" (Spooky enough to make Johhny Cash proud, with knock-out arrangements on both discs); "Dark Am I Yet Lovely" (O'Connor floating over one of her most emotional melodies ever); "33" (spellbinding on Disc One, lithe and acrobatic on Disc 2); "Whomsoever Dwells" (ominous and haunting on both discs).
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on 8 May 2007
Sinéad O'Connor returns after a two-year hiatus, but as usual with O'Connor, nothing is at it seems. "Theology" is a collection of spiritual tunes, mostly written by O'Connor and adapted from certain Biblical scriptures. The first disc is a collection of bare acoustic tracks, and it starts out with the poignant "Something Beautiful", which is a nice little tune with it's lilting melody. Her cover of Curtis Mayfield's "We People Who Are Darker Than Blue" have a certain sadness the original didn't, not to say that it's better, it just feels cleaner with just the guitar and her voice. Much of the material on the "Dublin Sessions" are very bare, and it helps intensify the already naked atmosphere of the first disc. Sinéad is clearly extremely devoted to these tunes, and songs like "Out of the Depths" and the joyous "Dark I Am Yet Lovely" are just lovely, but not all of the songs have the same flow. "The Glory of Jah" suffers from not really having a melody, and so does her cover of the Traditional "Rivers of Babylon". The "London Session" is more melodic, but still suffers from lack of melody. "Watcher of Men (Job)" is the strongest cut on this version, with its tormented message and defiance. "Whomsoever Dwells" suffers from lack of melody, and it doesn't really feel like an actual song, but more of a simple reading, which is probably why she doesn't raise her voice beyond a whisper. The gorgeous "If You Had a Vineyard" is severely wronged by its blatant backup vocals, and it simply does not work as it did on the first disc. Her cover of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" is lovely, and so is the perhaps best track on the entire album "33", with its glorious strings and middle-eastern beat. In the end, "Theology" is a lovely collection of highly personal and spiritual songs. Her voice, still lovely, though a little deeper, portrays longing and suffering like no other, and the album is a welcome addition to her already breathtaking catalogue of albums and songs.

Highlights: "Watcher of Men (Job)", "Dark I Am Yet Lovely", "33" and "If You Had a Vineyard".
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on 16 November 2011
Sinead O'Connor is a very interesting artist as her voice possesses a soft quality but also a contrasting angst. In previous records this has also been demonstrated by the accompanying arrangements, but on "Theology", these contrasts are much more subtle as the songs are arranged in an acoustic fashion. There are two discs to this album: The Dublin Sessions are recorded using simple acoustic guitar arrangements and The London Sessions have more rhythm and additional instrumentation.

On the Dublin Sessions, "Something Beautiful" is a light song with soft vocals and arrangements. The eerie but beautiful "We People Who Are Darker Than Blue" uses acoustic guitar arrangements just like its predecessor, but presents a much darker and sombre quality to Sinead's vocals. "Out Of The Depths" and "Dark I Am Yet Lovely" are lovely folk inspired songs where her voice gently preaches and unravels the story of the songs with compassion. "If You Had A Vineyard" has a deconstructed feel to it which adds to its sweet vulnerability. "Watcher Of Men" has an intriguing oriental feel to it and is very effective whilst "33" possesses a sadness and rawness that draw you in. "The Glory Of Jah" and "Whomsoever Dwells" are sweet inspirational songs with lovely melodies. The acoustic version of "Rivers Of Babylon" is quite refreshing and fits in beautifully with the rest of this first disc which is very soothing.

On the London Sessions, "Something Beautiful" is turned into a really captivating pop track with lovely string arrangements and a powerful Irish influence. "We People Who Are Darker Than Blue" is revitalised and transformed into an effective atmospheric urban influenced groove. "Out Of The Depths" is given a clever modern rock twist and a heavy beat. "33" feels soothingly exotic with a Reggae beat and oriental sounds whilst "Dark I Am Yet Lovely" has traditional Irish folk arrangements. "I Don't Know How To Love Him" is a very heartfelt and powerful pop ballad. "If I Had A Vineyard" has passionate backing vocals and a powerful rolling drum which make it sound patriotic and inspiring. "The Glory Of Jah" starts off softly and then builds into an anthemic rock song. The wonderfully disturbing "Watcher Of Men" is very mesmerising in its strangeness and the arrangements create a dark and experimental sound. "Whomsoever Dwells" has an eerie orchestral feel to it and is exquisitely weird and inventive. The final song "Rivers Of Babylon" ends the album on a high note.

I really cannot fault "Theology" as the first CD is endearing and captivating in its simplicity and the second CD is entertaining and captivating in its sheer boldness and creativity. Sinead O'Connor has released probably the best album of her career and reminds of how great she really is.
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on 23 April 2009
Great work of a great singer
It is impossible to miss this cd, to listen it over and over again and never get tired. If you are into spirituality it is also a great meditation music, especially disc one, acoustic.
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on 10 January 2015
Spiritual and soulful reflections from the reservoir of the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Prophets and Song of Songs which have inspired Sinead's strong sense of justice and love. Highly recommended.
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on 13 February 2013
not my kind of music but my daughter loved it. I have found that items that I have purchased from Amazon to be satisfactory on the whole
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on 17 December 2007
This is a very searching, honest, real, uplifting album. She seems to be doing what she truly wants to. I am amazed by and addicted to it. A lovely winter warmer.
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on 24 August 2014
Its one of her calmer soothing albums. As you might know she can be wild and wonderful as well.
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on 9 October 2011
I don't think that I have ever bought an album and decided the next day to get rid of it, but I have with this one. I am a completist and so would be pretty forgiving of a poor album from a singer I like, but to call this mediocre is being polite. This album is a series of religious songs, most of which are taken from biblical texts. The only two songs that are at least pleasant are two of the three not written by O'Connor, and even they are not that great. The others are simply bland recitations of religious text with pointless musical backing. And I am a Christian of thirty years standing, so the religious content does not put me off, just its treatment. Ms O should have been reminded that there is a thriving Christian music culture with hundreds of singers able to do muxch better than this.
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on 13 August 2014
Happy with product!
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