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When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King...

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Editors’ Notes

When the Pawn … could be an object lesson in how to turn volatility into art. For anyone who was expecting another set of histrionic piano ballads from the poster girl for emotional drama, Fiona Apple’s second release must have come as a surprise. Oh, it still sounds dandy through headphones at the dorm, but When the Pawn … counters post-adolescent angst with impeccable songcraft, clever, complicated arrangements, and most of all, a rueful self-awareness — heck, a sense of humor, even. “I’m gonna make a mistake/ I’m gonna do it on purpose,” she announces in “Mistake,” and you believe her. The dominant mood is angry, of course, and her scary-sexy alto is more raw and powerful than ever; even a declaration like “You’re all I need!” on “To Your Love” sounds like a smoldering threat. Producer Jon Brion adds layers of dense, quirky instrumentation to Apple’s piano — off-kilter drum loops, strings, sax, the Mellotron-like Chamberlin — for a sound that melds elements of electronica, hip-hop, cabaret, jazz, and Beatle-esque pop. This sonic alchemy reaches its apogee with the stuttering, manic nervousness of “Fast As You Can,” its rhythmic shifts mirroring the come-here, go-away jitters of the lyrics. “You think you know how crazy, how crazy I am,” she sings, but Apple is much more than just your garden-variety oddball: she’s an original.

Customer Reviews

One of the last Great albums of the '90s

Fiona Apple's second album, while not as commercially successful as her debut Tidal, and less publicized than the drama surrounding her last album (Extraordinary Machine), is without a doubt her most creative, brilliant and intoxicating album. 8 years since it's release, the album does not sound dated at all and stands out as one of the last great albums to come out of '90's modern rock. The opening track, "On the Bound," as well as the released singles ("Fast as You Can", "Limp", "Paper Bag") are some of the best songs Fiona has ever written, but they do not prepare you for the utterly astounding trifecta of greatness with the last three tracks - "The Way Things Are," "Get Gone," and "I Know" are three of the best songs ever to come out of the '90s, and having them back-to-back-to-back is beyond genius. While she often is derided for her lyrics by critics, they flow perfectly on these last three songs. Her compositional work, and Jon Brion's production, culminate to a level that can only be described as a masterpiece. The guitar work in the chorus of "The Way Things Are" is breathtaking, the overall composition and arrangement on "Get Gone" delivers one of the best relationship songs. Ever. And the beauty of the album's closer, "I Know" is heartbreaking. You can tell that Fiona was going through quite a rollercoaster herself while writing these tracks - and she conveys her music in such a way that is extremely easy to relate to, as well as being incredibly honest. This will remain as one of my most-played and favorite albums for the rest of my life. If you are not sure if you like Fiona Apple or not, this is the album to start with. After a few listens have sunk in, I guarantee you will be hooked.

An artist that delivers a whole new meaning to the word "sophistication"

Rarely will you ever hear an artist that sings with as much depth and meaning as Fiona Apple. In every work she creates, she sings with such a passion that it would be nearly impossible to not believe her. She fills every piece--every work of art--with all the soul it can possibly contain and sings it in a style that would almost make you cry. I'm only fifteen years old, and already, I feel as though I've been revealed all there is to know about this world...And it's all thanks to her music. Does anyone else notice how many artists write songs simply to take up space on their albums? Unlike many other musical artists, Apple always refrains from writing "filler", generic pieces. Every song of hers is there for a reason and has its own story and meaning. All of Fiona Apple's work--particularly this album--has gotten me through many days where I've been sad or depressed. Even when I'm happy, I choose to pull out her music and give it a listen. Fiona offers an interesting perpsective to life that I consider lacking in most of today's music, and if you carefully analyze her lyrics, you'll understand what I mean. I'm choosing not to give you a few track "highlights", because I believe that this would not be fair to all the other tracks on her album. As I stated previously, each of her tracks carries its own story and is beautifully sung. I recommend that you listen to the whole album from start to finish; you won't regret a second of it.


when the pawn brings elegance, edge, and lyrical eloquence to mainstream music... one of her better albums...fiona rocks!!! I love her!!! truly a dynamic artist that can be appreciated by all (even kanye west loves her!).


Born: September 13, 1977 in New York, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Fiona Apple defied categorization or any easy career path, almost running the pattern in reverse, opening her career as a highly touted and popular alternative singer/songwriter, then transitioning into a cult artist. Apple certainly benefited from the open-door policy of modern rock in the mid-’90s, following the path of crossover alt-rock piano-based songwriters like Tori Amos, but Apple was hardly an Amos copycat: she had a strong jazz undertow in her vocal phrasing and melodies, she had richer...
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