My first introduction to Fiona Apple was watching her Criminal video in 1997. I saw this skinny, stringy haired, half naked girl with a sultry raspy voice in a video that looked like a hung over swingers party. All dirty and guilty – and I loved it. And loved her ever since.
Then she was on the MTV Music Video Awards and her acceptance speech was all angry and political about the façade of pop culture and award shows, quoting one of her primary influences, Maya Angelou. Well that did it for me, she called MTV out AND knew about great Black women poets like Maya Angelo?! Of course Chris Rock had to clown her – that Maya Angelou didn’t know who the hell this random White girl was and called her “Fiona X” (smh).
That didn’t stop my love affair with Ms. Apple though. Once I heard Shadowboxer, First Taste, and Sleep to Dream I was hooked – they still stay in my rotation. Replaying these tracks over and over again whenever I’m in that moody, sensual, but angry place. Horny but not interested in the politics of relationships. She comes right on time with the complexity of being completely caught up in someone’s web and living for their next feed. The excitement that comes with discovering your lovers passions and pleasures. The defenses of being in a manipulative seduction
Jonesin for a crush that hasn’t yet been realized (this is one of my favorite summer night songs)
Or waking up from the fantasy and façade of someone to realizing the reality of a unidimensional selfish relationship.
What’s not to love about these complex ballads? I am ecstatic that she’s coming out with another album and thrilled with her newest single. In a time of music where I long, yearn, crave something other than dance tracks and songs about f*ckin – when we’ve lost a half dozen a great soul singers in just a few years – Fiona Apple’s new album comes right on time.
Few songs do I feel viscerally these days. Fiona Apple is one of them. Her voice immediately brings me back to neck kisses, ear lobe nibbles, and spine chills. Yet also bitter heart break. The anger is just as comforting as the love – two sides of the same passionate coin.
NPR gives us a sneak peak of her new album Idler Wheel with the first single “Every night”. The video is reminiscent of the dark and twisty Criminal but much more fantasy world – which seems timely given pop culture’s fascination with vampires, werewolves, human animal hybrids, and the like. Her first single evokes the roller coaster of emotions that love and life always takes us. Dark and moody at times, others pleasant like a lullaby. NPR described it as deliberately maddening yet also addictive – and this hits the nail on the head. At first listen, I was a little WTF but found myself replaying the track over and over again and now can’t get enough of it. The full album title is “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do“, and in her interview she describes being in a more mature, confident, powerful, and wiser place where she knows what she wants and is willing to wait until she gets it. It’s great to see this artist grow in herself and her work – and I find myself resonating and growing with her. From my reckless 20s with too many mistakes, to a space in my 30s where I am clearer and focused, I suspect Idler Wheel will speak to me in powerful ways as did Tidal a decade ago.
Listen for yourself.
Welcome back, Ms. Fiona Apple.