Powerful. That's the only way to describe this 1990 record. The effect it had on me when it was released in the middle of my college years cannot be overstated. In fact, it is one of my all time favorite albums. I covered O'Connor's controversial position in the music industry previously, so won't rehash it here and will, instead, focus on the music.
The fact that she penned all of the tracks save a couple when she was in her very early 20's is remarkable in and of itself. How someone at that age can address the themes and issues contained within the record is beyond me. And it's not just the lyrical content that strikes me as an amazing accomplishment - the music and arrangements are just as awe-inspiring.
Anyway, I found it very difficult to select just 4 or 5 tracks to recommend as the album is just so good beginning to end that it really deserves a complete listen. However, other than the two or so best known songs (you can look those up if you don't know which ones to which I'm referring), I'd instead like to focus your attention on: 'Black Boys On Mopeds' which is about police brutality in the UK; 'I Am Stretched On Your Grave' wherein O'Connor takes an old Irish poem and sets it to the beat of James Brown's 'Funky Drummer;' 'Three Babies' - a ballad that showcases the softness in her singing; and, finally, the standout track for me, 'The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance' which is a devastating song about the breakup of a ____ - you fill in the blank...marriage, relationship, etc. The song starts out slow and airy, gradually working it's way to a cathartic climax after which O'Connor just lets loose on her singing. But I find the most meaningful part of the song is right around the 1 minute mark when she sings, "I know you don't love me anymore//You used to hold my hand when the plane took off." Those two short sentences speak volumes in what she's trying to convey to the listener.