Forget Barry White and Snorah Jones, if you were in college in the late 90’s, THIS is what you wanted on the stereo when your girlfriend came over.
Fiona Apple hit the scene with a vengeance. Tidal was a slow, sensual experience, with provocative lyrics and a sound that hadn’t been heard in a years. Her smokey voice and piano playing was mesmerizing, putting you in a sort of trance.
Her lyrics were very personal and she bared her soul on this album, putting it all out there. As a musician, that’s the only way you can be true to your art. In reading interviews with her, it seems like the rise to fame was too much for her to handle at times. The “Criminal” music video, for instance, when she was parading around in her underwear, was a very negative experience for her that she just wasn’t prepared to handle.
When you write music, you do it alone, just you, your instrument, and something to write on. But now when you’re instantly famous and performing these very private songs for the entire world it’s jarring. It’s a stark difference playing the songs under the bright lights and it’s no wonder that many musicians and performers put on airs to hide who they really are. Many are very private, introverted people, who need to put on a “rock star” persona to deal with it. Totally understandable.
Here is Slow Like Honey, which is a deep track off Tidal. Shadowboxer and Criminal were much bigger hits, but to me nothing can beat the emotion and passion of this song.
Hearing this song reminds me of some of the great ladies of the past and their music. Fiona reminds me a lot of Etta James with that same swing and sultry voice. At Last was the song my wife Julie and I danced to at our wedding. Compare this to the song you just heard above, the similarities are striking.
When the Pawn…
Every time I hear this album, intellectually I know it’s very good music, but it just doesn’t have the impact of Tidal. The songs are a bit more complex and they have more groove rather than the slow swing of the last album. I can’t be sure, but I think she was trying to get away from that sexy lounge singer vibe that was hard to perform to huge audiences.
Another thing about this album is that there’s much more electronic drums and synths in it. Again, it’s done very well, it’s just hard to transition from Tidal to this. I listened to this a second time a few days later by itself and it was a much more enjoyable experience. I recommend going that route.
Here’s a great song off the album, Fast As You Can. It’s a perfect example of this album. Very different, but still good.
And of course, Limp is a very cool song from that album as well.
According to Wikipedia, her career took a nosedive after this album, which also happens to have the third longest title in history (you can read it on the album cover). Hey, it happens. But for two albums she was on top of the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if she made a comeback sometime, because the talent is obviously there. Maybe she just found herself and got happy, no more inner turmoil to fuel all that songwriting. We can only hope.
Stay tuned, next episode we take a dramatic turn to something with straight ahead, rocking guitars.