“Strangers In Danger” doesn’t attempt to label or understand, but accepts everything as it comes, which is as good a lesson as any for how to approach the music of Sinead O’Brien.
No chorus, no verse, no singing, just “the sound of soccer” and “plastic flowers in bloom”. Nothing about Sinead O’Brien is traditional, but it might be high time to kick traditions headlong into the depths. “Strangers In Danger” does just that, building on the Limerick-born artist's run of Sprechgesang-style singles.
“Strangers In Danger” is the first track to come from her upcoming debut EP Drowning In Blessings. The poet and performer once again turned to Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey, who helped seed an underlying post-punk delirium beneath O'Brien’s twisting, mesmerising vocals.
The lyrics were influenced by “Living on the outskirts, existing in the margins. Noticing everything… every minor detail,” she says. “It’s about a kind of duality where something is divided by having two apparently conflicting meanings. A feeling is mirrored in an external scene and illustrated in another language. The image simplifies the problem because it just is. It exists. With all of its complexities and contradictions. I felt connected to various images and occurrences around me and began sound-tracking these mini scenarios.”
These “mini scenarios” continue to unfold with multiple listens, where lines like “Only I said it, so I gave it the life of day” and “The streets become moving time machines of minds gone by” cut through the stream-of-conscious miasma to become something much more.
“We began writing in a garden shed so it has this very intimate feeling and grew out of that,” says O'Brien. “Scenes play out in windows, on streets, inside homes; It’s about spaces, claiming personal space in the city, naming things, bringing them closer. Feeling out the distance and tension between people.
“Stranger In Danger is a curated guide through these spaces we have built. You are carried through the rooms and immersed in the different levels and sequences of the piece. I experience it in a linear format from left to right - like digesting a stretched out painting.”