Article Telerama
July 12, 2000

Faith and Courage

The Irish singer doesn't tear up the pope's picture anymore and became a priest
in Lourdes. A sweeping conversion that doesn't do any harm to her divine voice.

Sinéad O'Connor's new album is called Faith and Courage. Faith is something
that she who wants to be called Mother Bernadette Mary has got plenty of. And
courage is what you need to do an interview with the Irish singer who, dressed
in a priest's robe and nun's sandals and with a cigarette in her mouth, is not
very communicative in the office of her new record company Atlantic, in Dublin.

Her ordination in Lourdes as the first female priest of the dissident church of
the Latin Tridentine? "That's private stuff of which I don't want to talk
about," she retorts. But for those who would like to recieve the sacraments of
her, all they've got to do is write to her record company drawing a cross on the

The image of a rock pasionara the media have given her? "I don't have an image
and I don't care. Even if celebrity brings me solitude and isolation." And then
all of a sudden, a miracle: among these scarcely given away statements a flood
of "revelations" provoked by a question about The Healing Room, a mysterious
term she uses in two of her new songs. "The  expression refers to an
establishment in London that teaches psychic sciences. You learn how to develop
mediumnic endowments, how to make long inner travels and how to communicate with
the death. I've been on a few courses there. They  are experiences that fill me
with pure joy and that do a lot more for me than psychoanalysis."  And who are
the death people with whom she communicates? She frowns: "That's nobody's
business but mine." So there we go again...

Luckily the lyrics of she who launched an uncontrollable flow of words (public
unveilings about her traumatic childhood, her homosexuality; her confession in
the Irish Independent about the influence of Joan of Arc on her life and
carreer...) speak for themselves. In No Man's Woman, the first single of the
album that was cowritten by Anne Preven and Scott Cutler, O'Connor states that
she won't give in on the male domination because she's already in love with ...
a ghost. In The Lamb's Book of Life she sings, definitely not out of the blue:
"I know that I have done many things/ To give you reason not to listen to me."
Which makes us think back of the Sinéad who tore up a picture of the pope, live
on American television.  In a head to head the Irish bald woman unveils, with a
sudden loquacity, the prime message of this fifth album in a thirteen year old
carreer:  "The only thing I always wanted to show to people, through my music
and my life, is that there is something on which they can always count and that
can help them: praying."

A Jehovah brochure that's sold door to door couldn't have a bigger impact. To
find a Sinéad O'Connor on a more human level, just listen to and enjoy Faith and
Courage, an album a bit "overproduced" (by Brian Eno, Dave Stewart, Wyclef Jean
of the Fugees and Kevin "Shakespeare » Briggs) to be honest, but on which her
superb voice is still intact. She won't be promoting the album on a tour because
she's got two children. And dozens of disciples to preach the Gospel to ...
Sinéad O'Connor's crise of faith is not nearly over yet.