No one would accuse of Sinead O'Connor of cutting loose and having fun these days: Her long-awaited six-song Gospel Oak EP is loaded with snail-paced songs about self-reliance, motherhood, rage and rebellion. The whole package is "dedicated to the people of Israel, Rwanda and Northern Ireland." But not surprisingly, it's all still held together well by O'Connor's unmistakable, still-breathtaking voice. There's nothing particularly revelatory here—certainly nothing along the lines of her shot-heard-'round-the-world 1987 debut single "Mandinka"—but a majority of Gospel Oak benefits from the presence of stark, barren, beautifully sung ballads like "This Is To Mother You," "This Is A Rebel Song" and the live closing track, "He Moved Through The Fair." After disappearing for a few years, it's great to hear O'Connor recording again, even if the albums that follow are as dour as this one.

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