The Knoxville News Sentinel newspaper reviewed “Are You Listening?” on May 25 and gave it 1 out of 2 rating. The article is below:
Dolores O’Riordan (Sanctuary)
Some 14 years ago, The Cranberries asked, “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?,” with the title of their debut album, and it turns out they could: Over the next half decade, the band from Limerick, Ireland, posted a string of hits and platinum albums.
Eventually, enthusiasm for The Cranberries dried up, and now the group’s lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan, asks, “Are You Listening?,” with the title of her debut solo release.
Rock music is at a commercial nadir, and it’s always been a particularly tough genre for women soloists, not to mention former lead singers of bands that wore out their welcome.
But at the least, past fans of The Cranberries ought to give O’Riordan a chance. The singer who gave voice to such delicate songs as “Dreams” and “Linger” and was a woman possessed belting through “Zombie” and “Salvation” is in as strong form now as she was for all those hits.
If anyone is indeed listening, O’Riordan has several chart possibilities on her solo release, which was co-produced by Youth and is a natural progression from The Cranberries’ modern-rock sound. That includes the first two tracks – the pop- rock dreamscape “Ordinary Day” and the more urgently buzzing “When We Were Young,” both eliciting nostalgic thoughts of her band. She also revisits the structure of “Zombie” with a “Stay With Me” that alternates meditative verses with desperate chorus outbursts.
O’Riordan evocatively uses wistfulness to sharpen the hook of the slower “Apple of My Eye,” and closing track “Ecstasy” sways with an oddly e ective combination of sensuality and drowsiness. Plus, despite its gimmicky premise, the sassy “Loser” – with its opening line of, “I’m sick and tired of people like you!” – packs a wallop.
However, just as The Cranberries often got bogged down in the murk, O’Riordan likewise sinks into muddy arrangements and all- around tepid tracks that water down the impact of the latter half of “Are You Listening?”
Those cuts aren’t a deal-breaker; they’re more flat than detrimental, but they won’t help O’Riordan beat the odds against her return to relevance