Fiona Apple, "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do" (Epic Records)
After making a name for herself at 19 with her acclaimed debut "Tidal" in 1996, Fiona Apple slowed down and almost ground down to a halt. Now 34, she releases her fourth album after a seven-year break, and the title's a mouthful: "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do."
But the dense name is merely indicative of the richness of material on the album and the now 34-year-old's fearlessness in taking her time to do the exact music she wants.
Stripped down to ten tracks and using instruments scarcely, "The Idler Wheel" presents the listener with a deceptive facade of frugality, when in fact, like with all of Apple's work, it blooms into a rich tapestry of emotional stories. The singer pours herself vulnerable and raw into the music, particularly on tracks like "Every Single Night," ''Periphery" and "Anything We Want." Apple's remarkable voice exudes a mix of confidence and hurt, modulating itself perfectly to the atmosphere of each song.
Apart from intuitive use of non-instrumental sounds such as a typewriter ("Regret"), children's voices on a playground ("Werewolf") and birds flapping their wings ("Daredevil"), Apple brings to the table her impeccable lyric-writing skills and instinct for the most wonderful turn of phrase. After all, who else would put in the same song words like "orotund," ''reticulate" and "valedictories" and get away with it? At the end of the album, you feel like you've been to wonderland.
CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: "Regret" lodges itself in your brain like an obsessive letter to an ex-lover.