It’s been eight years since Alanis Morrissette’s last album, but on July 31st, Such Pretty Little Forks in the Road was released, and for my household (me, Milton and BPK), I can say it’s been a deep joy and pleasure to immerse ourselves in a new set of songs by one of our all time favorites.
Such Pretty Little Forks in the Road is already number one in the “Top Rock Albums” chart this week according to Billboard magazine, and many of the responses have been excellent. A couple of less than stellar reviews seemed to be a result of the reviewers’ implications that they longed for a revival of the angst and intensity of Jagged Little Pill. If I remember correctly, both Pitchfork and Rolling Stone used the word “sedate,” an unfortunate word choice because, even if it’s taken in the traditional sense of being calm, dignified, and unruffled, in context of the reviews, the word feels pejorative. The album may not be a jagged pill, but neither is it a sedative.
Honey, you don’t owe it to anyone to be the same person you were in 1995, and neither does Alanis. It may behoove us to take a moment and reflect upon the danger and injustice of wishing upon any human, let alone an artist, the curse of unchangeability. Despite the persistent sense that we are living in dark times, the truth is: Growth happens. Alanis isn’t the first pop star to benefit, along with her fans, from a deepening and a maturity in her music and and sense of self.
Make no mistake, friends, she’s still got it, and it’s better than ever. Now, I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what I thought about the single “Diagnosis” when it came out back in December, and even now, I can’t say it’s one of my favorite songs on the album, but I totally respect what she was up to and why. It’s not just the courage it takes to speak about her own mental illness, but the insight to do so in a way that is less than declarative, that doesn’t take the shallow route of trying to teach a lesson, as if we all suffer and recover the same way.
Despite what I’ve already said about this not being a revival of Jagged Little Pill, the first song on the album (the single from which the image on this page comes) strikes me as delicious morsel for anyone hungering for a reprise of “Uninvited.” The next two songs, the videos below shared in reverse order of their placement on the album, show both the artistry we’ve come to expect from Alanis and the depths of her growth since JLP. The biting and self-aware humor of “The Reasons I Drink” is beautifully offset, or even complimented by a realistic sense of hope in “Ablaze.”
This latter song speaks to the joy and sense of purpose she’s found in her life without once, in my opinion, becoming sappy or maudlin. Still, I warn you, it may bring a good tear or two to your eyes. And as a librarian and book lover, I am envious as hell of the library in that house! I hope it’s really hers for real. I’m not sure I could bear the disappointment if it wasn’t, so I’ll leave that to you to research. Enjoy this taste of Such Pretty Little Forks in the Road.