Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill Acoustic
The Alanis Morissette of 1995 is a very different creature to the one we know today. A decade ago the long haired, terribly serious performer wrote and recorded her most successful album to date "Jagged Little Pill" which was full of feminist lyrics which struck a chord with the disenchanted youth. It's even more remarkable considering five years prior she was being groomed as a perky permed popstrel singing throwaway bubblegum pop like a Canadian Debbie Gibson for kids TV.
Now engaged to Van Wilder Party Liason movie star Ryan Reynolds, Alanis has cut off her trademark locks into a more fashionable style, has benefited from years of therapy and is now more relaxed, happier and content in herself. So it seems an odd move to re-record the album that put her on the musical map in an acoustic style. Why not simply re-release the original with bonus tracks (B sides perhaps) with a DVD of the music videos from her singles with new sleeevenotes. If you've already got the original why would you shell out for it again for the exact same songs in a more intimate, stripped down sound? Whatever her reasons "Jagged Little Pill Acoustic" is a reminder of the outpouring of a headstrong woman who became a role model when she released this landmark album.
"Perfect" has piano, acoustic guitar, hammond organ and echo on the vocal which benefits such cutting lyrics as "how long before you screw it up". Alanis' voice is stronger, richer and more confident than ever and she reaches the high notes well. "Right Through You" has a lovely string section which massages her voice tenderly throughout. It's folky leanings are the perfect way to express disappointment, dread and the predatory nature of the male psyche with really powerful imagery and confessions more suitable for a psychiatrist couch with a directness which is refreshingly blunt, e.g. "You took me out to wine dine 69 me".
"Ironic" is Alanis' most famous song, which had one of it's lyrics dissected by Ed Byrne in one of his stand up routines. The slower more gentle arrangement takes away the intensity of the original, but the pretentious wordplay and unforgivable humourless pomposity still grate.
"Wake Up" is an unremarkable ballad which closes the acoustic album with more strings and guitar. Alanis can certainly hold a tune and spin the occasional memorably line with a sweet melody that manages to be hummable while the lyrics are the perfect release for the inner turmoil of a singer songwriter with so much to say.
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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