Fiona Apple’s music has as much identity today as its author’s reputation as a rebel. It was not always like this, since the New Yorker started with heartbreak ballads in swinged jazz, transiting until she reached the indescribable genre loaded with percussions and denounced in her most recent, Fetch The Bolt Cutters (2020).
The beginnings of Fiona Apple
Apple’s musical boundaries have been increasingly extended, but it has not always been so, since since his debut in Tidal, his lyrics and music have been transformed and mixed into beats and other digital elements. It is time to analyze what the music of this unique singer-songwriter has ventured (and become), in more than twenty years of legacy Until now.
In 96, the world met Fiona Apple through Tidal, an intimate exploration of a virtuous pianist with elegant arrangements and persistent jazz inclination, from songs like “Shadowboxer” or “Slow Like Honey”, which showed why Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald They were one of the greatest inspirations for the young Apple of 19 years.
Back then, the string accompaniments and percussions were in balance with his great voice, the range of which we see clearly in the highs of “Never Is a Promise”, between strong lyrics about trauma and the extremes of sentimentality. In hindsight, one of the songs least consistent with its sound is “Criminal”. In his lyrics there were no happy endings, saving men or ideal love, but real relationships, disappointment, trauma and misunderstanding
The break with their forms came with When The Pawn…, in which she continued to orbit around jazz and swing, but the strength began to grow in her, scraping her voice from “On the Bound”, in interpretations that already had more identity of their own and were not attached to classical forms, now being more accelerated and challenging the typical of the genres in which they move.
Fiona Apple was ahead of her time
The most prominent distortions and metals appear (“To Your Love”, “Limp”) with a less sweet and more torn voice. She returned to familiar terrain in the painful “Love Ridden”, recognizing in her lyrics the resignation of someone she believed in.
His new versions of music that inspired him continued to be present in songs such as “Paper Bag”, but Fiona Apple had her sights set on the future, when showing on “A Mistake,” including digital sounds and distortions., or in “Fast AS You Can” an intention not to stay in the same tempo and melody throughout the song. From there we heard where he was going.
This dynamic between his musical roots and his own sound left several themes that made indecision notable: we do not have the quality of start towards one direction or another. Extraordinary Machine, from 2005, simply did not have the disruption of the previous two, let’s say that there was no bet from Fiona and it was safe, without the experimentation of the predecessor looming.
The adventure that had been When The Pawn…, showing changes in any second of his songs and new facets of Fiona (almost almost rapping, screaming heartily) he was absent for a while on his third album. Ballads and more ballads, heartbroken than ever, perhaps the only remarkable moment is called “Not About Love”, with breaks and dissonances that seemed not to fit in that album.
After the calm, Apple returned with The Idler Wheel in 2012, seven years later, with a fairly dense vocal exploration, from start to finish. The diluted power in the previous album was accumulated and he also gave us the best lyrics that we know him, in songs like “Daredevil” or “Hot Knife”, Apple has renewed strength to tell us everything that doesn’t seem like it.
He began to discover key elements for his recent studio album
Accelerated percussions also returned along with the tension created by their piano progressions (“Left Alone” exists to prove it), what later would be fundamental for Fetch the Bolt Cutters in sounds that cause everything but comfort, what Fiona Apple wants to convey along with her pleas for being loved and seeking peace.
In this fourth album, reconciliation with the electronic was natural (“Jonathan”, “Periphery”) and distanced himself from the beginnings of swingeado jazz to increase his sonic palette with several new percussions that combined in the background and would stay for his near future. With a rather austere support band for how much he proposes, his voice shines amid the fast-paced arrangements and the screams of fans:
The greatness of Fetch the Bolt Cutters is not just that it was their first album in a span of eight years (or that it even ended) but in that it is the most identifiable sound in its entirety with the name of Fiona Apple. The madness of her formless genius, totally free, with many perc˜ and the piano leading the songs, does sound inspired by her roots, but it is not only that.
The 18-year-old remains the usual topics: the search for love, the fatalism of what will come and the fruitless attempt to understand a complex world. The decisions to modulate your voice, from impeccable highs to raspy lows, are varied and linked to the messages, better than before and even in moments, the suffocation that you feel transmits it.
Fiona Apple strongly questions how people are measured in society
The game of getting the listener out of his comfort zone happens a lot while talking about his traumas, as in the shouts, hums and double voices of “Shameika”, where he continues to question how we measure people in this society.
Fiona was able to launch herself on the path of simple fame, throwing swing covers or great jazz tributes, and even dedicating herself to making a hits (once stated that of course you knew how to do them). He took the most enriching detour for her, which resulted in playing with elements of her home to make songs, including dog barking, breaking up during her songs, and denouncing past couples over and over again, as in “Fetch The Bolt Cutters.”
This has led her to sound simply like a person: herself. The automatic need to catalog her or associate her with a previous woman to measure her success is no longer applicable to Fiona, who is a category by herself.
We would not be surprised if she is considered one of the greatest modern lyricists, and they give some prize reserved for poets or novelists (remember Bob Dylan the Nobel). Fiona Apple has created worlds of her own heartbreak and misunderstanding, and her own musical atmospheres.