Fiona Apple - When The Pawn...
Beauty comes in many forms, but unique beauty is rare. Fiona Apple is one of the rare birds, and When The Pawn... is her masterpiece. I guess I was a bit hopped up on the wrong kind of things a few years ago when I was introduced to this album. Of course like many, I was already aware of her existence, Tidal her debut disc was phenomenal, but I had no idea how much she would progress.
It's fair enough to say, you can tell what kind of album you're in for by playing the first track. On The Bound is not only this kind of track, its really the best song to introduce those unwittingly aware of Apple through only her radio success. Her voice so strong in those long winded chorus cries, "You're all I need." During the verse her pipes have a much more Joplin like confidence, reaching deep down for that extra raspy something. Yeap, intro tracks usually tell the story, and this is no exception.
The most important aspect to this album is Apple's tendency to change vocal and instrumental tempo at any time. From whispering, to yodeling, and every soft and high note in between. In addition to the garden variety of supporting instrumentation her carnival like sound is not created just from her beautifully unique vocals and fingerings. Efforts throughout the record are made with some rarely used instruments like a Chamberlin, Woodwinds, and a Wurlitzer. Most helpful is the subtle use of Synthesizers, Cello's, Horns and an occasional Orchestra arrangement.
For an immediate example of Apple's tendency to change tempo's like a little boy coming down off a sugar rush, look no further than lead single, Fast As You Can. Spending her verses in a storied pace, wait for the chorus and it's obvious she's the general and lead commander of her work. The Way Things Are though one of those, moving on type lyrical songs, is a very playful track. Apple's chorus resembles that of a little girl shouting back at the boy on the playground. Inner-twined with an odd but fitting instrumentation, she sings confidently, "So keep on calling me names, keep on, keep on. And I'll keep kicking the crap till it's gone."
Crawling in nicely with a slow fingering of progressive bones Apple sets the tone, soft slow, only to stick the brashness of her sexual energy right up in your face. Truly the most amazing line of this entire album lies right in the middle of Limp. "You fondle my trigger, then you blame my gun". Lord this woman knows how to blend lyricism and melody into an impressive pot of musical value. Absolutely the finest song this woman has ever written comes up as track nine, Get Gone. Easily mistakable as a lyrical carnival of enraged female vulnerability, the melody and truancy of each piano chord makes for truly one of the finest songs this set of ears has ever heard. Apple's voice is golden and groggy, with a longing for genuine romanticism. Soaked in vulgarity and sincerity, the sweetness of her rage is attractive in just audio ways. So simple, but grossly emotional, Ms. Apple is the epitome of feminine bold, and balls. All while managing to show a side of grace and sweetness. Songs like I Know and Love Ridden show a side of extensive soothe and belief in her own talents. Drum breakdowns that break beat kids can feel, echoed water drops and of course her uniquely gorgeous finger layering on the piano makes this a top three track of "When The Pawn..."
Actually titled: When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing Fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo. You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand. Then You'll Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You Know That You're Right after a poem she wrote. The album title is in The Guinness Book of Records due to it's unprecedented length.
Fiona Apple has always been a target of media criticism, and quite honestly, some people should never be put under the microscope. The truth is, the more you pick and probe women, the more you get wonderful records like "When The Pawn..." Don't make the mistake of ever believing this is one of the greatest recordings of a female singer songwriter. Raw and bold realism makes this one of the greatest recordings of music history. So please, by all means, keep on calling her names.
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