Dolores O'Riordan No Baggage Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

A reminder of why the world fell under her spell.

Daryl Easlea 2009

If ever a band demonstrated the disconnection between the rock media and the paying public, it was The Cranberries.

The Irish band sold over 40 million albums worldwide, yet it was difficult to find a decent word written about them across a five-album career. Lead singer Dolores O'Riordan came in for a disproportionate amount of stick for her “cat-sat-mat” approach to lyrics. Although her second solo album, No Baggage, may not gain her any new converts, those who hold her dear will be delighted.

Written amid domestic bliss (she lives in a log cabin with her family in Ontario), and recorded in London, O'Riordan clearly feels relaxed enough to let her feelings pour out. But the album's opening line – “Some mental anguish in my head, wake me up I am not dead” – shows that although she may have found a great deal of personal inner calm, she's still pondering the invisible world.

Skeleton is from the Zombie school and her emoting reaches fever pitch on Lunatic; imagine Erik Satie tinkling the ivories with a deranged singer banging on. Tranquilizer’s “tranquiliser / desensitise her” rhyme can hardly be regarded as great art, though.

However, the album's high points are rather special. It's You reminds the listener why the world fell under O'Riordan’s spell in the first place: an ode to her parents and to her children, it warns against wishing one’s life away and wanting to go back to simpler times. It's a theme which, of course, has been touched on a million times before, but it doesn't stop it being extremely affecting.

With its charging guitars, ringing choruses, and moments of calm, No Baggage is not unlike an album by her old group. However, when it deviates, such as on the Indian-influenced Throw Your Arms Around Me or the Madchester touches of The Journey, it proves that her settled home life and The Cranberries’ ongoing hiatus suits O'Riordan well.

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