Dolores O'Riordan
No Baggage


3.5
great

Review

by Mikesn EMERITUS
August 25th, 2009 | 25 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: No Baggage doesn't quite match the brilliance of The Cranberries' early successes, but it is a solid album in its own right.

In the eight years that separated the release of Everybody Else Is Doing It… and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, The Cranberries had completely transformed as a band. By the beginning of the group's hiatus in 2003, vocalist Dolores O'Riordan had assumed her role as The Cranberries' primary songwriter, and the band's streamlined pop-rock didn't resemble their older laidback alternative sound in the least. That isn't to say their later efforts were poor – they weren't. But at the same time they weren't nearly as captivating as either Everybody Else Is Doing It… or No Need to Argue.

Are You Listening" saw O'Riordan strike out on her own for the first time, and while it slightly mirrored latter day Cranberries albums in composition, it just felt…different. As good as songs like "Ordinary Day", "October", and "In the Garden" were, parts of Are You Listening" sounded somewhat difficult or even awkward, and gave the impression that O'Riordan wasn't exactly sure which direction to take her craft. Chalk it up to the complete absence of Cranberries' guitarist and co-writer Noel Hogan from the song writing process, or perhaps a little indecisiveness, but for all its strengths the record lacked the nostalgic edge of O'Riordan's past works.

No Baggage sees O'Riordan address some of these problems; not only is the album uplifting than Are You Listening", it's also far more confident sounding, an improvement that can be heard in the reworked "Apple of My Eye". From opening track "Switch Off the Moment" and first single "The Journey", it becomes clear that No Baggage's Dolores O'Riordan isn't quite the Dolores O'Riordan we grew up listening to – the nostalgic feeling is still nowhere to be found, and her music isn't quite as evocative as it once was. However, No Baggage still espouses many of the characteristics that have become synonymous with O'Riordan's music; most distinct of all is her diverse singing style, of course, and barring the awkward sounding whispers in the verses of "Switch Off the Moment" and "Be Careful", her signature soaring vocal deliveries are often her greatest strength. On the opposite side of the spectrum is O'Riordan's questionable lyrical output, which has been slipping since The Cranberries' third record, To the Faithful Departed. Lines such as "You can't outrun / your skele-ton" from "Skeleton" and "Some mental anguish in my head / wake me up I am not dead" from "Switch off the Moment" are as confusing as they are cringe worthy, and the repetition in "Throw Your Arms Around Me" is rather ineffective and needless. Of course, it doesn't help at all that these quirks stand out so much when listening.

What sets No Baggage apart from its predecessors, however, is O'Riordan's willingness leave her comfort zone. Whereas the past three records have each been dominated mostly by slick pop songs with enormous hooks, No Baggage features a handful of unorthodox Dolores tunes. It's a move that pays off; although piano ballads aren't pushing the boundaries of musical experimentation, "Stupid" and "Lunatic" are two of the album's best songs. The former is a more conventional piece relying on more simplistic piano dynamics accentuated by light guitar, while the latter focuses more on the its atmosphere, transitioning seamlessly over a variety of different moods. Neither song attempts to incorporate catchy hooks, but rather places a greater importance on textural beauty in two of O'Riordan's most sonically pleasing songs since To the Faithful Departed's "Electric Blue".

No Baggage doesn't quite match the brilliance of The Cranberries' early successes, but it is a solid album in its own right. A more confident, complete record than its predecessor, No Baggage sees Dolores O'Riordan building on old strengths, while broadening her artistic scope farther than it's been in thirteen years. In spite of lacking a major hook filled hit ala "Ordinary Day" or "Promises", the more grounded tracks found on No Baggage are carry the record, while demonstrating the more diverse aspects of O'Riordan's song writing. As it stands, with No Baggage it sounds as though Dolores O'Riordan is no longer concerned with whether anybody is listening. And it shows.



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Chart.
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Are You Listening?


Comments:Add a Comment 
Mikesn
Emeritus
August 25th 2009


3708 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

also cranberries are back together cool

BallsToTheWall
August 25th 2009


48972 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah they are. I'm praying for a Florida date and I never pray. From what i've heard off this, this soundsbetter than the last album which I enjoye(d) alot. Ace review sir.

Digging: Severoth - Forestpaths

Electric City
Emeritus
August 25th 2009


15762 Comments


so hard to care about her nowadays

BallsToTheWall
August 25th 2009


48972 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No? I suppose i'll pick this up tomorrow.

rasputin
August 26th 2009


14968 Comments


i dont love her because im a metalhead because im not

rasputin
August 26th 2009


14968 Comments


also skeleton is just as amazing as zombie, promises and the like

fireaboveicebelow
August 26th 2009


6832 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I didn't care much for skeleton actually

PanasonicYouth
August 26th 2009


7413 Comments


i almost smacked my screen because of your damn avatar, mike. haha

rasputin
August 26th 2009


14968 Comments


I didn't care much for skeleton actually

wut

kingsoby1
Emeritus
August 26th 2009


4970 Comments


why do metalheads love her so much i will neverk now

you ass, that's the exact post i was going to make.

BallsToTheWall
August 26th 2009


48972 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Being a metalhead has nothing to do with it. I've been jamming to The Cranberries since I was 8. I guess I thank my family for that.



And Skeleton is amazing FYI.

Willie
Moderator
August 26th 2009


17610 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn, I had high hopes for this album.

LepreCon
August 26th 2009


5451 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Would this be a good time to mention how awesome I think this woman is?

Boognish
August 26th 2009


1003 Comments


Dolores O'Riordans popularity on this site is just baffling

Altmer
August 26th 2009


5701 Comments


i have to be honest i don't care about her solo stuff but i love the cranberries

LepreCon
August 26th 2009


5451 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, definitely prefer The Cranberries' stuff. Still love her though

jingledeath
August 27th 2009


7101 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is pretty good

sleepyhead
August 27th 2009


593 Comments


does anyone know if the cranberries or dolores on her own are planning on a european tour? especially Greece. and if so, when???

Willie
Moderator
August 27th 2009


17610 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cool, I'm glad this got re-featured.

Electric City
Emeritus
August 27th 2009


15762 Comments


Dolores O'Riordans popularity on this site is just baffling


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