While this two-disc set of new covers and old material may not cause a clamor for O'Connor to come out of her recently announced retirement, there are enough treasures to make it worth enduring the annoyances (which begin with the full, turn-off title: She Who Dwells in the Secret Place of the Most High Shall Abide Under the Shadow of the Almighty). From the piercing blast of feedback that opens a live recording of a 2002 Dublin concert, disc 2's 13 tracks can be painful. Filled with keening Celtic ballads, the disc proceeds at a dirgelike pace that isn't even salvaged by her best-known song, a funkless version of "Nothing Compares 2 U."
The first disc, a collection of 19 unreleased studio tracks, is far easier on the ears. Following the two slow Irish ballads that open the CD, O'Connor keeps the earnestness to a minimum and actually exudes some humor, especially on a series of inventively varied cover tunes, including three produced by Brian Eno ("Do Right Woman," "Love Hurts" and "No Matter How I Try"), the B-52's song "Ain't It a Shame" and the collection's highlight, a gorgeously catchy version of ABBA's "Chiquitita."