This was a long time coming. After two astonishingly mature (beyond her years at least) and rich albums it looked as though female singer/songwriters had a new champion. The passing of the torch from the likes of Alanis Morrisette and Beth Orton to Fiona Apple was undeniable. But something happened... Rumours abounded of rifts with record company execs, of nervous breakdowns, of anorexia and severe depression. For several years, the world was void of the originality and strange soul that is Fiona Apple.
I am biased - I adore everything about her and have since I saw the PT Anderson directed video of Across The Universe, the main theme to the movie Pleasantville.
I next saw her popping up in the behind-the-scenes footage of Magnolia, with above noted PT (whom she comments on often in her new lyrics) and again I fell in love with her shyness, intelligence and obvious talent. Her songs fill any room with mood; challenging you to feel - sometimes joy, sometimes anger, sometimes frustration, sometimes deep loss, but feel nonetheless! The melodies of her previous work may stretch your taste, so if you play her the wrong way, the songs will scrape and jar... but that is indicative of the passion which motivates this sometimes young genius.
She has gone on record, both in interviews and in her song lyrics, as saying that singing and the fame it afforded her also brought her anxiety and panic, and she needed to leave for a while to find peace of mind. In this new CD, that difficult time she experienced comes out in every note, every word, sweet, bitter and a little bit older.
A quick glance at her website will allow you to see a set of photos that show the ever photogenic waif to be less edgy and intense - more soft, mature, yet still deeply scarred. I think she looks great, but it is the music that I'm most excited about. Of course nothing of Fiona’s is ever easy and there are multiple uses of discord and "noise" in her music. But each and every song is laced with beauty in some form: often revealing, touching, thought-provoking and life affirming, and never, ever dull.
As seems to be the norm with anything/one I worship beyond reason, this album is not for everyone. Those of you who despise a hint of jazz in any way should definitely stay away. But those listeners who actually ‘get’ Fiona, will be like-minded in wanting more, and hopefully before another five years go by. 9/10