When Alanis Morissette broke through in 1995 with her seminal album ‘Jagged Little Pill,’ she became an symbol of rage for women. It may have been that young people praised her for it, but some found it awkward.
If being rightly angry about the world in your early twenties (Morissette was 21 when the album was released) is seen as unladylike, you can hardly believe society would be pleased that the Canadian singer, back at 46 with her first album in eight years, is still just as outspoken as she was 25 years ago.
‘Such Pretty Forks In The Street’ is quintessential for Morissette in that it gives a no-holds-barred look at her views on issues like mental health, addiction, women’s aspirations and sexual harassment. Her lyrics are as sharp and concise as ever, capable of provoking the strongest of emotional reactions with the simplest turns of phrase that seem. For example, ‘Diagnosis’ couples spare tragic piano lines with crushing lines from the musician about their postpartum depression experiences. “At one point, everyone around me is trying to help as much as they can,” she sings. “But I am alone in the emotional breakdown.”
Alanis Morissette : Acute writing style by Morissette envelops you in her reflections and experiences. She discusses having a healthy sex relationship as a victim of violence on ‘Sandbox Love,’ vivid guitars glimming around her. This is both an ode to love ‘s healing strength, and a reminder of the effect that trauma may have over us. ‘Pedestal”s epic string-laden swells accompany Morissette as she points out all the insecurities she feels about her marriage (“I’m not going to be afraid of one day the way you now want me”). The topics on this album that seem more mature but they are related to people from all generations.
While ‘What Pretty Forks …’ is lined with peaks, without their troughs, it is not. ‘Missing The Miracle’ features some clever lyrical insights (‘You see the skater / I’m afraid the ice is thin’), but it sounds drab and uninspired musically. Meanwhile, ‘Ablaze’ is a heartfelt letter to the children of Morissette, but the arpeggiated guitar melodies flowing between chord chugs easily get tired.
However, at the other end of the spectrum there’s ‘Reasons I Drink,’ the best song from the record. Morissette discusses her relationship with addiction on screen, helping herself with a disappointingly jaunty piano line which is difficult to get out of your head. “Nothing, like they do, can give me a break from this torment,” she cries in her inimitable yodel, and you are reminded of her power: one founded on sincerity and authenticity.
‘What Pretty Forks …’ may not be perfect, but that is true of Morissette ‘s representation of life – something that is always chaotic and difficult, but worth sticking to.