Out of virtually nowhere, 19-year-old Fiona Apple established herself a visionary
singer and songwriter with her 1996 debut album Tidal. With gems like "Shadowboxer,"
"Criminal," and "Sleep to Dream," the vocalist/pianist reaped
critical and commercial success almost overnight. As aficionados found echoes
in her songs of such legends as Nina Simone and Carole King, Apple found herself
at the vanguard of contemporary pop. Released in July 1996, Tidal went gold
in December and currently is certified triple platinum for sales of more than
three million copies.
The quick success was a bit strange to get used to," she says today. "But
the album was, for me, a great workout of the mind. It pushed me. I realized
that I had to live every second, not shut myself off from anything. Deliberately,
I didn't read any reviews when Tidal came out. I didn't want to gauge myself
by anything I was hearing or reading. I didn’t want to get stuck in mirrors--I
wanted to carry on."
With When The Pawn, Fiona does considerably more than "carry on."
She takes her music down deeper avenues, alternately more artful and more real.
And she took her time in doing so, first developing ideas for songs while on
the road. "I didn’t really have a piano to work on," she says,
"so in my head, I'd play around with certain rhythms, ideas for drum sounds.
Generally, I’d think of writing whenever I was overwhelmed by something
in my life." Finally back home in Los Angeles ("there, I have a piano--a
cheap one I've rented," she laughs), she crafted her material.
With every song on When The Pawn, Fiona Apple "gets it right." From
the yearning of "Paper Bag" to the fury of "Limp" to the
lovely resolution of "I Know" (which Fiona, with a laugh, calls "probably
the only happy-ending song I've done"), she embraces the full range of
human emotion. And in that embrace, lies the bravery of Fiona Apple and the
beauty of the music she makes.