EMI; CD; Rs. 395.
Before reuniting this year with the popular Irish rock band The Cranberries, its lead vocalist Dolores O' Riordan made good use of the long break to put together two solo albums. While “Are You Listening?” did well, “No Baggage” proved to be more promising with a certain degree of brightness and (true to its word) no luggage of the past. Dolores aims for new peaks as she moves out of her comfort zone of slick pop numbers into brighter, unorthodox styles. More confident and uplifting than her previous record, the album broadens her artistic scope. It brings in a blend of world beat music accompanied by folk/spacy rock cemented with her beautiful voice.
Maybe “Some mental anguish in my head, wake me up I am not dead” is not the right set of words to start with, the first track “Switch Off” unleashes a flurry of charging guitars and a ringing chorus leaving one adrift in Dolores' evocative vocals.
“Skeleton” turns the music a notch up with Dolores' eccentric lyrics racing in with dreamy overtones. Every note, rift and rhythm in the right place, her endearing voice and style drives home her alternative rock origins. “It's You” tramps along with offbeat drums and a simple rhythm, yet is a lyrical ode to her parents and children. Though a theme touched upon often, Dolores' voice casts a spell that leaves the tune lingering long after the song ends. In original alternative rock style, “The Journey” blends an intense melodic synchronicity with spiritual fervour. Clearly aiming to the heavens, Dolores voice takes you to a high never experienced in her songs before. Her eerie voice creeps in with a mystical piano progression and an accentuated guitar in “Stupid”. As she whispers ‘Sing me a love song' in this harmonious track, she carries the lull onto “Be Careful” which builds intensely into an accomplished soaring vocal delivery – one of Dolores greatest strengths. “No Baggage” also carries a reworked version of “Apple Of My Eye”, a song featured on Dolores' debut solo album, “Are You Listening?”. Far more improvised and colourful, the song is a true version of her Celtic rock ventures. “Fly through” follows in the same accomplished fashion. She deviates with an Indie rock rhythmic “Throw Your Arms Around Me”. Though the lyrics are unnecessarily repetitive, Dolores probably wants to show her prowess at a new genre. “Lunatic” creates an atmosphere of melodic beauty and varying moods with a simple piano riff accompanied by Dolores sonically exquisite voice. It abruptly erupts into a feverish high pitch that calms down again. The closing tune leaves you feeling incomplete and “I'm not prepared, I'm running scared” may be the ideal album closer in “Tranquilizer” but when Dolores' endearing voice whispers “I need the strength to carry on” in the end, it seems like the singer is en route to another diverse album.