"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Album Review: Alanis Morissette's Flavors of Entanglement

Most people own one Alanis Morissette album: Jagged Little Pill. For those of a certain age, it's an album that defined our angst and shouted to our lovers of yore a loud, angry "F You!"

Alanis went on to record more albums, and some were successful (Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie went platinum three times) while others were not (her last album So-Called Chaos peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart), but none were quite as beloved as Jagged.

Some critics have attributed the disappointment of Chaos to Alanis' "domestic bliss" at the time, which now appears to be over as a result of her broken engagement to Ryan Reynolds. I'd like to counter that her recent musical downfalls have occurred because she was the lead producer. With her new album, Flavors of Entanglement, Alanis lets someone else run the show, something she hasn't done since Jagged.

That someone is producer Guy Sigsworth, and he is a breath of fresh air. He takes Alanis in a new direction, closer to the sounds of other artists that he's produced including Imogen Heap, Bjork and Madonna ("What it Feels Like for a Girl"), while not leading Alanis too far astray. Thankfully, this is not a transition like Jewel's disastrous 0304, it's more of a graduation. What results is an Everything but the Girl-esque sound mixed with Morissette's always strong lyrics, which, when combined, result in her strongest album in more than a decade.

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