Sinéad O'Connor Throw Down Your Arms

Sinead has just made the reggae album she’s been hinting at for years. Recruiting Sly and Robbie on production and compiling a track listing heavy on roots pioneers like Burning Spear, the Abyssinians, and Israel Vibration, O’Connor sounds completely at home voicing patios lyrics with her Irish lilt. What’s more, she knows to let the music do the talking. While O’Connor could certainly stop a heart beating with her voice she doesn’t — restraint, imperative in reggae, is the order of the day as she sticks faithfully to the original vocal parts. Throw Down Your Arms begins with an arresting a cappella version of Burning Spear’s "Jah Nuh Dead,” and by the time the second Spear track classic, "Marcus Garvey,” hits the speakers, it’s clear that the only thing as good as hearing Winston Rodney sing these songs is hearing O’Connor sing them. Yes, she’s that good. Sly and Robbie’s supervision is spectacular. Sounding every bit as organic as the originals; the tracks have an updated sparkle but never go overboard with modernisation. The gemstone of the set is Buju Banton’s "Untold Stories” — an unlikely cover that is given new life in the hands of a much more delicate voice than Banton’s. Ending with the song that started this journey, Marley’s "War” is given a full band treatment here lovingly recreating the Wailer’s militant sound but with a haunting Irish flute added. (That's Why There's Chocolate and Vanilla)