Typically wilful, valedictory double CD with new material, rarities and a 2002 live show from Dublin
Actually titled She Who Dwells In The Secret Place Of The Most High Shall Abide Under The Shadow Of The Almighty, this is intended to mark O’Connor’s retirement from music. The visionary anger that birthed her early songs has long been replaced by a hard-won serenity, which is good for her but less so for us; embracing her Irish heritage may be a sign she is, at last, at peace with herself, but it makes for horribly worthy listening. Worse, she seems to have deliberately ignored the most thrilling parts of her voice (a process which began in earnest on ’92’s bizarre, traumatised covers set Am I Not Your Girl?), favouring instead breathy earnestness, an adenoidal tone and unforgivably clumsy phrasing. The second CD’s live show suffers from muddy, pedestrian arrangements; the first’s selection of folk standards (do we really need to hear “Molly Malone” again?), covers and the odd original is just dull. But then there’s the brutal, bare “Big Bunch Of Junkie Lies”, a thrilling (and simultaneously crushing) reminder of what made her so special.