If the title of Dolores O'Riordan's 2007 debut Are You Listening? asked a question appropriate for the launch of a solo career, the name of her 2009 sophomore effort is a statement of purpose: she's heading into this next phase of her career with no expectations, No Baggage. Of course, she cannot leave behind her distinctive voice, nor does she wish to, as she gives her two trademarks -- the breathy whisper and lacerating caterwaul -- almost equal space here. That doesn't necessarily mean that O'Riordan relies on the familiar throughout No Baggage. Yes, this is instantly recognizable as her music -- not just in that voice, but its blend of folk-rock and sighing, spacy rock that splits the difference between U2 and David Gilmour-led Pink Floyd -- but No Baggage is bigger, brighter than Are You Listening? and as the album starts to hit its stride halfway through, she weaves in increasingly varied instrumentations, sometimes delving into pure worldbeat influence but more often using all these sounds as coloring on crisp, cheerful adult pop. These clean, open arrangements tend to make the songs seem catchier than they actually are -- the hooks don't grab, they repeat like softened incantations that never quite catch hold -- but that does give No Baggage an nice, gentle shimmer that's appealing.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine