We're so close to the time when Christmas music will fill the radio airwaves, I'm getting more and more anxious. There's nothing I love more than cranking up songs like 'Jingle Bell Rock' by Brenda Lee or 'O Holy Night' by Crackhead... err Whitney Houston. In the coming weeks I'll take a look at some timeless Christmas music, and some great gift ideas for the season.
Fiona Apple has one of those voices that is so compelling and haunting, you're virtually addicted to listening to her, and when you've finished, it bounces around in your head. Her passion, her anger, her lyrics and her brilliant piano skills still create a unique brand of music. The Fiona Apple sound is distinct and rich.
I've been a loyal fan since first hearing 'Criminal' in 1996. Her booming and impossibly deep voice stepped out of the speakers and into my mind at light speed. It was one of those pop moments, frequent in my life, where I needed to immediately run out and buy the album. 'Tidal' still remains in my personal rotation after almost ten years. And occasionally you can hear me attempt to belt out 'Criminal' at karaoke here and there around Boystown... .
After some label drama in 2003, Fiona Apple is finally back with 'Extraordinary Machine' on Sony. To be honest, I've only had the album for a week despite it's release over a month ago. But what a week it's been! From hope to sorrow and pain to anger, this album has it all.
There's something very Federico Fellini about Fiona's music. When things are feeling so out of whack and unclear, out of the blue you suddenly understand what is going on. The entire time you know you're listening to something original and new, but the lack of familiarity is a bit disconcerting at times.
Naturally, her fans know this, and it's the original nature of her music that draws us back in time and time again. For the first time in quite a while, I don't have a spotlight track for the album I'm reviewing. They're all good, and they're all really distinct.
The title track, the whimsical 'Extraordinary Machine' is a favorite of my repeat button. The orchestration is spare while her voice dips and sways around the instruments in true Fiona style. 'Better Version of Me' is a heavy piano groove that is stylish and a brilliant story of learning life's lessons. 'Tymps', another track full of fun instruments, is about being so head-over-heels about someone that you can't help yourself. ( Nooo, never been there before... )
Maybe it's the accessibility of her themes that keeps drawing us back in. It could be her heavy vocals, rough and smooth at the same time, low and soulful, like she's singing from deep down inside. Or maybe she's just like the rest of us, but with the sense of a storyteller and a microphone to record it all. Whatever the case, 'Extraordinary Machine' is, indeed, extraordinary.
With you in 4/4,