Rolling Stone
                  June 9, 2000

                  Sinead Talks Joy, Faith and Courage
                  O'Connor makes amends with "Faith and Courage"

          Courage under fire

                  Sinead O'Connor walks into a conference room in the midtown
                  Manhattan offices of her new label, Atlantic Records, shyly
                  says hello to the dozen or so journalists gathered around a
                  big square table, sits down, fires up an American Spirit and
                  opens up. The topic at hand for the next half-hour is her new
                  album, Faith and Courage, and each journalist is allowed one
                  question. From the get-go she is candid, thoughtful and
                  forthcoming, though she quickly makes it adamantly clear that
                  the one thing not open for discussion is her priesthood. The
                  last thing she wants to do, O'Connor explains, is use her pact
                  with God as a publicity angle.
                  "Neither do I -- and this is very important -- want to
                  disrespect the Church or disrespect Catholic people who may
                  have a problem with women being ordained," she says. "They've
                  shown me an honest tolerance, and as long as I don't go around
                  disrespecting them, they're not going to go around
                  disrespecting me. So I think that out of respect for them and
                  my priesthood it's important not to talk about it."
                  The inquiring reporter sitting next to her nods in
                  understanding, then asks if she can like, marry people.
                  "I'm not going to discuss..." O'Connor repeats herself,
                  sternly but not impolitely. It's a display of seemingly
                  infinite patience, a sense of grace under pressure, that might
                  seem out of sorts with the often rash, angry young Sinead of
                  yore. But if she's made one point patently clear today, and
                  throughout the new album, it's that that woman has grown up a
                  lot since then. She's not quite as openly confrontational
                  ("I'm thirty-three now, so I'm less so, obviously"), but she
                  hasn't gone soft, explaining that she still thinks
                  confrontation can be very useful in getting some points across
                  and that anger is a woefully under-appreciated emotion. But
                  maturity -- and hindsight -- has given her a new sense of
                  focus, and with it an understanding that, "If I want to get
                  heard, it's important that I accept humility."
                  "I know I'm more confident in what I'm saying now," she says.
                  "When we're younger, we're not so sure. As you get older you
                  get surer about what you talk about until you learn how to
                  communicate things in ways which are not threatening."
                  "I know that I have done many things to give you reason not to
                  listen to me, especially as I have been so angry," she sings
                  on Faith and Courage's "The Lamb's Book of Life," "But if you
                  knew me maybe you would understand me/Words can't express how
                  sorry I am if I ever caused pain to anybody/I just hope that
                  you can show compassion and love me enough to just please
                  Do not misinterpret that apology as an older, wiser O'Connor
                  looking back on say, that incident with the picture of the
                  Pope on national TV, and saying, "What was I thinking?" But
                  she does recognize that sometimes, part of her message might
                  have been obscured. "It's important to accept one's fifty
                  percent in how a message got lost," she says. "I don't accept
                  the fifty percent that is not mine, but if I want to be heard,
                  then I must accept my fifty percent and therefore be humble
                  enough to say, first of all, let me say I'm sorry that things
                  I did hurt you. That doesn't mean I'm sorry I did it; it had
                  to be done, however I'm sorry that it hurt other people. You
                  can't make an omelet without breaking eggs."
                  And the message she so desperately now wants to get across to
                  people who may have long since turned a deaf ear to her? "That
                  everything in this world would be OK/If people just believed
                  enough in God to pray." O'Connor may not be forthcoming
                  talking about her role as a woman priest, but her passionate
                  faith shines through Faith and Courage, which she says she
                  wanted to be a very spiritual record. She doesn't want to be
                  "no man's woman," she sings on the first single, but adds,
                  "I've got a lovin' man, but he's a spirit."
                  "It discusses the idea of wanting to conduct a relationship
                  with one's soul," O'Connor told Rolling Stone shortly before
                  the conference room discussion. It's a theme often repeated on
                  Faith and Courage, a triumphant collection featuring some of
                  the most exuberant and, it's worth noting, catchy songs of her
                  career. A lot of credit for that may be due to the host of
                  star producers on the album, including Dave Stewart, Wyclef
                  Jean and Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs, but it has just as much to
                  do with the overwhelming sense of ecstatic joy conveyed in
                  O'Connor's lyrics and voice.
                  "It's the joy," she says, "that you get when you go inside
                  yourself and find out how much more there is to life than
                  meets the eye."

                  RICHARD SKANSE