Surprise, surprise, she’s won me over again.

Fiona Apple doesn’t release albums often, but when she does, rejoice. Fiona albums only grow better with time and “Idler Wheel…” is no different….Flurried and frantic sometimes, steady and desolate at others, it sounds like nothing else out there. It took me about four listens to truly understand it, understand where it was coming from, but I love that I couldn’t give up on it; I couldn’t because her words were drawing me in past anything else that I wasn’t getting. You will see reviews talking about private she is and how revealing her songs are and whatnot, but at the end of the day she’s an artist. She’s honest and weird and metaphorical, an artist we only know of because of the pop charts who produces these strange and wonderful narrations of internal struggle and external desire and just feeling.

On “Idler Wheel….” there are multiple moments of painfully bold sharp notes and bellows. She growls, she writhes, she shrieks. But then she resolves, with patience, and returns back to a decisive cleanliness…vocally, her control is phenomenal and used to convey meaning like none other, see “Left Alone” for a taste of the variety Apple can cram into two measures. She says every single syllable with its own intensity, capturing insanity, loneliness, self-doubt and self-assurance with the most appropriate vocal tone, even if they’re all in the same phrase. Quivering on the right words is interspersed with whisperlike trills, and Apple hits the blues notes with just enough throwaway….there is really just something behind every syllable. Instrumentation is sparse but purposefully so, the use of space and texture is refreshing to ears used to everything electronically layered so damn close…piano is center stage sharpened by unique auxiliary (shakers, ringing bells and hard-to-identify drums are in no small number, even what appears to be nat sound of footsteps on stones), and it’s expansive, so, so expansive – the intro on “Anything We Want” is probably my favorite, playful and primitive.

But delivery, and instrumentation, would be nothing without these words. She just says it….lyrics are wry and dark and often tortured but exposing all the sad, scary vulnerable bits we feel and never say. “Werewolf” and “Periphery” in particular show immense perspective wrapped in metaphors and the end result is achingly real. She puts your head in a place that’s always on but rarely tuned; these songs are the result of one woman’s subconscious turned inside out and the lessons to be learned, the insights to glean, the connections to forge, will give and keep giving as long as you’re willing to look.

“I could liken you to a werewolf the way you left me for dead
But I admit that I provided a full moon 
And I could liken you to a shark the way you bit off my head
But then again I was waving around a bleeding, open wound 

But you were such a super guy ’til the second you get a whiff of me
We are like a wishing well and a bolt of electricity 

But we can still support each other, all we gotta do’s avoid each other
Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key 
Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key

The lava of the volcano shot up hot from under the sea
One thing leads to another and you made an island of me

And I could liken you to a chemical the way you made me compound a compound
But I’m a chemical, too, inevitable you and me would mix
And I could liken you to a lot of things but I always come around
‘Cause in the end I’m a sensible girl, I know the fiction of the fix 

But you were such a super guy ’til the second you get a whiff of me
We are like a wishing well and a bolt of electricity
But we can still support each other, all we gotta do’s avoid each other
Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key
Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key
Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key
Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key

~Werewolf,
Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do