Thursday, August 30, 2012

#40: Fiona Apple - Tidal (1996)

It's vacation time, it's time to bring out all of my favorite artists while I stare at the beach. Fiona Apple is an American treasure, while some may see her as 'too intense' I find her to be riveting. Musically she puts out some of the best made albums in my generation. The older I get the more I don't want to listen to a "technically" well crafted song - I want something honest, real, and complex.

Sullen Girl
This not radio material and maybe that's why I enjoy it so much. Apple was raped at a very young age and while I may never understand how it can affect someone, she's honest about it - which can't be easy. The lyrics are deep and cryptic, if you didn't know about her past you may not know what the song is about, or may even attach a different meaning to it. The strings, the tasteful drums, the swells, and the lyrics make this one of the many bright spots on the album.

Shadow Boxer
"I'm a shadow boxer baby, I wanna be ready for what you do. I've been swinging around at nothing I don't know when you're gonna make your move." The guitars on this track add such a different vibe than the slow, thoughtful licks from the piano. The drums and bass create the sense of a dark alley fight, while the strings add warmth to the best track on the album. If you're not familiar with this track or Fiona Apple, this is where you need to start.

A quick snare march creates a train that's doing it's best to sneak up on you, the bass stays with this quick movement which is further accented by the guitar that's quite catchy and slightly funky. However, the dissonant strings really define the mood. Apple proves soft, almost whispering vocals - until the end where it bursts out of it's own chest. Instrumentally the chorus is much louder, but Apple really doesn't react to it - she keeps her same volume and tone letting the music carry the emotion instead of forcing it.

All in all, it rocked my socks off when I first heard it. I'm used to piano music sounding like Billy Joel, Elton John, and Ben Folds. This is nothing like those artists and it proves that Apple is a true talent. It's piano driven but the wheels are a rich/full bass, simple drums, swelling sometimes dissonant strings, and bells. It's not my favorite of her albums but it's awfully good. Her music is not necessarily radio friendly, but that doesn't mean it's not solid. Those that base how good an artist is by the amount of #1 singles they have are missing out on a lot of great artists and Apple just may top that list.

Tomorrow's album: Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.

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