Release Date: 11.09.99
Record label: sony / epic
Fast As She Can
by: bryan ochalla
It would be easy to pass up Fiona Apple's sophomore album. While her first LP, Tidal was well received and had a few hits like "Shadowboxer" and "Criminal," Apple made more buzz with her bitter speeches at wards shows and live appearances than her sultry voice ever could. When the page-long title to her newest album was released, most people probably let out a groan and said "here we go again."
In fact, Fiona does turn in some bitter numbers here and there on When The Pawn... but they end up being some of the most sonically and lyrically interesting tunes on the album. "To Your Love" may be spewing venom at a spurning lover or at the press and public that enjoyed ripping her to shreds after Tidal. Another track that attacks her critics is " A Mistake," with Apple admitting she may have took some wrong turns in the past, but, man, did she have fun. Fiona hasn't stopped using her past relationships as fodder for her songs, either. "Limp" is a driving song aimed squarely at a life-sucking lover who is told in no uncertain terms "it won't be long till you'll be lying limp in your own hands."
Not everything is filled with spite and anger, however. "Paper Bag" is almost shockingly whimsical, floating along on background of bouncing percussion and head-in-the-sky lyrics. Apple's softer side is also seen on the final track, "I Know," where the singer/songwriter speaks of her unquestioning love for someone despite the fact that he is already taken.
With it's unforgiving and honest lyrics, stronger than ever vocals, and use of interesting instruments such as chamberlains and wurlitzer's, When The Pawn... establishes Fiona Apple as a truly respectable and intriguing artist. Apple has matured in the harsh limelight of fame, and it is nice to see that she is continuing to make the music she wants, the way she wants, despite what the fickle Britney Spears-buying public says about her. Nov-1999