Listen for the return of O’Riordan as an icon

Limerick, Ireland native Dolores O'Riordan auditioned for and won the role of lead singer for a band called The Cranberry Saw Us in 1990.  By the time the band made its international major label debut in 1993 with Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? she had managed to convince the rest of the band—thankfully—to shorten the name to simply The Cranberries.

Over the course of five albums, a number of Billboard Hits, nonstop critical acclaim, strong sales worldwide and more hairstyles than Annie Lennox, Madonna and Dolly Parton combined, O’Riordan’s powerful Brogue-toned lilting cry remained one of the most well-recognized and powerful voices of the time until 2003 when the band took a well-earned hiatus and retreated from the public spotlight.

Now after four long years, songstress, smoldering iconic siren and the critically acclaimed voice of The Cranberries, Dolores O’Riordan is back with her first-ever solo effort Are You Listening? on Sanctuary Records.  Co-produced by Youth and Dan Broadbeck and engineered by Rich Chycki the album is O’Riordan at her best ever.

Written and recorded between her homes in Canada and Dublin, the album is a striking return to form, punctuated with angular chords and that crystalline voice.  Folk-tinged, electric and deftly powerful, it’s also a relentlessly melodic success.

O’Riordan was kind enough to take time from a stop in Italy at the beginning of her European tour to talk with O&AN during an exclusive phone interview about her newly solo status and being a full-time mom (she has four children) and an international celebrity. For more information on Dolores O’Riordan please visit or

O&AN:  After having been so strongly identified with a phenomenon like The Cranberries for so long, how did you decide it was time to branch out on your own as a solo artist? 

O’Riordian:  It was really a quite organic process that led me to record a solo effort.  The priority of my life has been spending time with my kids and taking a big break from the music industry completely.  I’d been in The Cranberries for 15 years and we had accomplished quite a lot in that time.  It was a journey with highs and lows through which I discovered much about myself.  I grew up in a kind of unusual way during this time as a young girl in the public eye.  Nonetheless when I came to the end of that journey I needed to take time to myself to maybe go back and recapture what I felt I might have lost by becoming famous at such an early age.  I wanted to get to know myself a little better as an ordinary person to see if I had missed anything.

O&AN:  Do you feel more connected to your life in a more personal sense than you were before?  How did the changes in your personal life affect the content of the new album?

O’Riordian: It was great time for me to get away.  I think removing myself entirely form the industry for a time was the best thing for me to do in order to be able to move forward.  I was completely anonymous for the first time since I was a teenager and it gave me the perspective I think I needed to be able to make up to my kids for the time I had been touring and working so heavily.  Unfortunately, during that time my mother-in-law was very sick and passed away, so along with some other things in my life at the time I had learned to deal with it all by writing.  It became kind of therapeutic for me but I never really gave much thought to putting any of it on a record at the time—that all came much later. 

O&AN:  How has your songwriting evolved now that you are no longer constrained to a collaborative project with a strong group dynamic?

O’Riordian:  I suppose that it is much easier for me to experiment with things now in that I’m not limited by the group dynamic.  I can hire someone who can create whatever I want to create now, so a lot of those boundaries that existed are gone.  When you are in a band the musicians all have their own styles, limitations and abilities.  When you are creating music yourself everything comes from you:  the bass, the drums and everything else.

O&AN:  Was there any fear going into this project of fans that enjoyed the group who wouldn’t get you as a solo artist?

O’Riordian:  I didn’t really worry much about if people would accept me as a solo artist or not.  When you have kids and you go through death and you go through birth and all of these big things in life that are so much bigger than being a stupid singer. It makes it all seem kind of silly really.  The old saying is It’s only Rock-n-Roll but I like it

I finally know what that means now.  It’s supposed to be an escape.  It’s supposed to be a fun thing.  When I was much younger I took it very seriously to the point that it made me really sick as I let the pressure get to me.  Now I know that it’s all a big laugh and I need to enjoy it while it lasts.  If people don’t like it then maybe I’ll go home with my tail between my legs but at least I tried and gave it my best shot.

O&AN:  Do you feel that you will ever return to The Cranberries or is that part of your life finished now?

O’Riordian:  I feel The Cranberries are a part of my life that is behind me for the foreseeable future.  Maybe in ten or fifteen years we could do a reunion tour just for old-time’s sake like the Police are doing.  If it works out that way down the line then that’s great but right now it feels like I’ve just stepped away from all that and I am really trying to enjoy my solo experience to its fullest.

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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