We Alanis Morissette fans are a patient bunch. It’s been almost exactly eight years since the release of her last album Havoc & Bright Lights. But whilst I class myself as a an Alanis super Stan (do the kids still say Stan?) I haven’t loved everything she’s ever done. It seems like she’s at her best when she has demons to vent about. Take her breakthrough album Jagged Little Pill (I always want to call that her debut, forgetting about the ‘pop’s years). You’re not going to find an album more full of angst. It worked well in her favour, of course, selling over thirty million copies worldwide. Then there was Flavours of Entanglement, a sorrowful album of post break up fall out that would put the likes of Adele and Swifty to shame.
Havoc & Bright Lights saw a much softer sound without the lyrical content of her previous work. Gone were the days of going down on people in theatres, replaced by songs about spirituality and motherhood. There were a few nice tracks on there, but nowhere near as satisfying as her previous body of work.
The first single taken from this album, The Reasons I Drink was a triumphant return to form, which seemed to appear out of nowhere at the end of last year, giving her fans an early Christmas gift. Since then, she’s been dropping tracks here and there until the eventual release This week of Such Pretty Forks In The Road.
The album kicks off with Smiling. The more observant will notice that as is often the case, the title of the album is lifted from the lyrics from one of the songs, which is in this case is this opening track. Smiling is a brand new song written for the stage production based on the music of Jagged Little Pill. Whilst the song fits perfectly with this era of Morissette’s career, this album is definitely not another Jagged Little Pill. It’s a much more poignant, thoughtful and understated collection of songs. Never more so than on Diagnosis, a piano/vocal ballad that features some of the most heart on sleeve lyrics since Flavours of Entanglement. The song tackles themes of mental illness, and evokes the kind of emotional response that she’s known for when at her best. I’m sure anyone who’s been through anything like this will be able to relate to the lyrics. The emotive theme continues through a number of tracks such as Missing The Miracle and Her.
More uplifting in their production, tracks like Sandbox Love and Ablaze show that Morissette is just as able to put out a great pop tune, that stand up to those on previous albums So Called Chaos and Under Rug Swept.
Morissette is forever the storyteller, with a love of cramming more words than necessary into her sentences. Nothing has changed on this album. It still has her trademark sound, but has evolved from her previous work. Whilst much of her work encapsulates a certain era of her life, SPFITRreads more like a life story, covering a wider range of emotions than she has in one place before. Maybe due to the fact it’s been so long since the last album release.
It’s been twenty-five years since the release of JLP (God, that makes me feel old). I remember the buzz that surrounded this young artist. Since then, she’s added so much to her incredible body of work. Such Pretty Forks In The Road stands well alongside her already stellar back catalogue and shows that all these years on, she’s still a relevant artist. But was it worth the eight-year wait? Yeah, but let’s not leave it as long next time.