Are You Listening?
REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/24/2007
Dolores O’Riordan took four years to make this album. It was well worth the wait.
The Cranberries fans who know O'Riordan as the frontwoman will latch on to this, but others may approach with some trepidation, especially because she thanks everyone under the sun in the liner notes and apologizes profusely for the delay.
Are You Listening? is a revelation, though. O’Riordan has created an album of depth and maturity while maintaining the Cranberries' commercial appeal. While there is a callback to some of that band's best work (think "Zombie" or "Linger"), most of the music pulls back from that band's latter-day excesses.
Many of the songs on Are You Listening? highlight the individual strengths of O’Riordan. “Ordinary People” features her ethereal voice floating above the mid-tempo beat. She makes excellent use of background instruments to enhance the basic melody.
“In The Garden” focuses more upon the vocal strength and power, showcasing the singer's knack of fitting her vocal to the material in front of her. “Human Spirit” is a turn back toward her Irish roots. Beginning with a montage of Irish instruments and sounds, O’Riordan creates a rock sound that is melodic and loyal to her heritage.
“Loser” is very close to classic Cranberries sound. The melody threatens to break apart but never quite does. The listener is not quite sure what will happen next but waiting for the next surprise is half the fun. Finally “Apple Of My Eyes” is a song that shows simplicity can be a wonderful thing in rock and roll.
The two songs that don’t quite make it, “Stay with Me” and “Black Widow,” are not as melodic as the others. When O’Riordan allows the basic song structure to completely break apart, there is a problem, and those two keep this from being completely solid.
Are You Listening? is an album that kept my attention throughout and left me wanting more. The music was varied enough to be entertaining yet cohesive enough to maintain O’Riordan's musical vision. Hopefully, it will not be another four years before the next one, though if that's what it takes to produce something of this quality, so be it.