Fiona Apple once told TV host Jimmy Kimmel: "My mind goes to tragedy first." Yes, but what a mind.
Her last album, in 2012, was called The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do.
When promoting that album, Apple recalled meeting her ex-boyfriend, the film director Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master, There Will Be Blood), who told her he remembered her as "somebody who's been down on themselves from years ago". When Anderson asked Apple about The Idler Wheel, she said she "felt really, really happy, I felt like I can die now, I've done what I want, this is me".
Maybe with Fetch The Bolt Cutters, her new album, Fiona can feel she can die again now because this is truly Fiona Apple. Who or what is Fiona Apple? In 2012, she told Interview magazine: "Paul Thomas Anderson told me that two of the funniest people he knows are me and Daniel Day-Lewis. He was like, 'You're both hilarious, but everybody thinks you're awful.'"
Fetch The Bolt Cutters is an unconventional piece of work, all 13 songs sounding slightly unbound, but beautiful. Not least the opening track I Want You to Love Me, with its existential piano loop, over which Apple sings about death ("I know when I go/ All my particles disband and disperse") and love ("While I'm in this body, I want somebody to want").
Some listeners might feel something approaching the sense of wonder that Kanye West felt upon hearing her 2005 album Extraordinary Machine. He said he wanted to be the "hip-hop Fiona Apple".
On this, her fifth album, Apple is the Kate Bush of alternative. On the title track, she even sings: "I grew up in the shoes they told me I could fill/ Shoes that were not made for running up that hill/ And I need to run up that hill."
"Making this album has helped me get through stuff," she says. "And I don't know if I can say that about my other albums."
The New Yorker magazine wasn't joking when it described Apple last week as "a long-time practitioner of social distancing". On Under The Table, she sings: "I told you I didn't wanna go to this dinner."
Ever since the success of her first album, 1996's Tidal (written when she was 18), Apple has rarely left her home in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, except to bring Mercy, her dog, out for a walk.
"She has no social media," wrote the New Yorker. "She rarely listens to new music, owing to some combination of disinterest and an aversion to being influenced. These qualities lend her work a kind of feral authenticity..."
Very few artists express themselves like Apple. It just seems to leak out of her. You can feel it on Shameika.
"My middle-school experience is still important to me. Mainly because that's where my relationship to women started getting fucked up," she says, explaining the inspiration behind the song. "I'm not traumatised by boys bullying me. I'm more traumatised by girls rolling their eyes at me."
Sunday Indo Living