Review Summary: Another metal review... oh wait it's the debut from former Cranberries singer, "Delores Riordon".
My first experience hearing Dolores O' Riordon's voice occurred when I was much younger and knew little to nothing about music at that point. I had came across the single "Zombie" from their spectacular second album "No Need To Argue" while flipping through MTV. I was watching the video and all I could remember was that it was very sad song with quite an emotional performance from Delores, singing about the horrors of all the violence breaking out in Northern Ireland. Something about the song just grabbed hold of me. The heavy riffs, and the stellar singing performance inspired me to find more of their music. I had no problem catching this album as it was very popular within my family due to my heritage.
So, who were "The Cranberries"". They were a highly popular Irish rock group in the early to mid nineties that garnered many fans all over with their style of music. Much of the popularity of the band could be pointed at the front woman Delores. She has always had that voice that stood out from the rest, mostly due to her Irish accent as she primarily sang in English. The band had left a huge mark upon the 90's rock scene with "No Need To Argue', selling millions of records and gaining new fans in the process. Sadly, that was their shining moment and eventually faded out till the day they broke up. Many years later though, Delores has returned to the alternative rock scene, coming up big with her highly anticipated debut "Are You Listening". Obviously, escaping the past of her former band is impossible as the music has a reminiscent feel to some of their works. "Ordinary Day" opens up the album as one of the most uplifting and catchy tracks to be found. The song begins with an acoustic guitar intertwining with an electric guitar before a rocking drum beat and singing enters. The song has an exceptional chorus, which could be said about a lot of them.
Musically, there is a lot of diversity shown with a wide range of instrumentation being added to the record, beside the basic guitar, bass, drum, work formation. Songs could open as a piano driven ballad, to an acoustic driven track or a mid tempo rocker. The unpredictability is good because you never know what to expect. You could have a foot tapping rock song one minute and have a slower paced, emotional ballad the next. "Black Widow" for example is a haunting piano driven track that out of nowhere, a breakdown enters, laced around her whispers, giving off an unexpected but welcome dark vibe into the song. "Human Spirit" even has it's own flute interlude that merges with a piano run and a drum beat to add something extremely catchy and out of the ordinary to a track that was already pretty good. Willing to experiment would be an understatement as each track has it’s own identity, keeping the album fresh with new ideas. Not just a great singer, Delores knows how to craft songs that fit each motion she expresses. Her voice sounds remarkably similar to the past yet sounds stronger and more mature than ever. The lyrics in general are quite basic and easy to relate to as they deal with many topics that we might have or will experience in the future. The production that wraps up the music was pretty solid. Some artist’s prefer the vocals to be up front while the music takes the back seat. That doesn’t happen here as the vocals and the instruments are presented crisply and clear on a similar level.
All in all, this is a pretty solid release from Delores O’ Riordon. This album is instrumentally and vocally sound as each song has it’s own hooks to catch the listener off guard. The drum beats at a steady pace with great success in providing the rhythm. The guitar work isn’t really technical but fills it’s role well, balancing out between the acoustic and electric guitar to add dimension to the music. Straight forward music such as this does not need to rely on technicality but more on being able to provide rhythm and catchiness for the vocals to go along with. Although not as primary as the guitar and drums, the piano and flute really add a nice touch to the atmosphere. The vocal work from Delores never ceases to amaze me although when she switches to that tone shown in the chorus of “October” it might turn some off. In my opinion, this album has little to no flaws. A strong debut from the former Cranberries singer. Hoping to see more or less the same in the future.
Strong vocals and songwriting.
“When We Were Young”
Some songs might drag.