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Alanis Morissette - Such Pretty Forks in the Road (Album Review)

Wednesday, 05 August 2020 Written by Simon Ramsay

Alanis Morissette’s diaristic outpourings have always walked a fine line between gripping and grating, entertaining and self-indulgent. But when she gets the balance of introspection, angst, ire, heart and hooks just right she’s a compelling artistic force. ‘Such Pretty Forks in the Road’ is her purest singer-songwriter record to date, and a true return to form.

However you feel about Morissette’s work, you can’t accuse her of being anything other than 100% forthright. She feels it, she writes it, she sings it. The ninth record of her career, the follow up to 2012’s ‘Havoc And Bright Lights’, is a typically candid affair that displays exactly what’s been playing on her mind, and eating up her soul, in the interim.

Unlike its middle of the road predecessor, which peddled mostly uninspired, Morissette-by-numbers lyrics, ‘Such Pretty Forks in the Road is as texturally opulent and atmospheric as its storytelling is raw and vital.

Brimming with intense, moody cuts that explore subjects most major artists wouldn’t dare broach, the record draws from a palette that recalls early Tori Amos and Kate Bush as Alanis wrestles with her contradictory and conflicting feelings towards each theme.

Smiling immediately nails the record’s narrative focus, stating “this is a life of extremes.” A haunting storm that’s part broken ballad, part soaring dramatic epiphany, it sees Morissette wrestling with surrender as the tempest builds to breaking point. Diagnosis, meanwhile, is a disarming confessional that chronicles postnatal depression over lonesome piano and desperately sad strings. The cinematic, steely Reckoning aims a karmic fuck you towards a former manager who embezzled money from her and was subsequently imprisoned.

What’s pleasing about this record is how such tortured offerings are counterbalanced by moments that, regardless of topic, are either lyrically or musically light. Ablaze is so full of warmth as Morissette aims to keep her kids inspired in the face of life’s dispiriting negativity. In contrast, Reasons I Drink employs a bouncy Supertramp riff, and supremely catchy chorus, to deliver a treatise on addiction. 

Its expletive-ridden chorus aside, Sandbox Love repeats this high wire act. It is one of the most commercially infectious cuts here, but deals empathetically with embracing physical intimacy in the aftermath of sexual abuse.  Throughout the album, music and message are given equal attention, avoiding the clumsy lyrical exposition Morissette has been guilty of in the past.

Although unerringly personal, these songs boast a strong universal touch, with their honesty, compassion and relatability providing rejuvenating nourishment. Backed by strong melodies and performances, they add up to Morsissette’s most consistent and arresting offering since a certain pill arrived 25 years ago.

Alanis Morissette Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon October 18 2021 - BIRMINGHAM Utilita Arena Birmingham
Wed October 20 2021 - LONDON O2 Arena
Fri October 22 2021 - MANCHESTER Arena
Mon October 25 2021 - DUBLIN 3Arena

Click here to compare & buy Alanis Morissette Tickets at Stereoboard.com.



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