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.
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".