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When the Pawn

4.6 out of 5 stars 551 customer reviews

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When The Pawn...
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Audio CD, November 9, 1999
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 9, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: SBME SPECIAL MKTS.
  • ASIN: B005F9TPZ2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (551 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,377 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
All year long I have been waiting to see who would receive the title of "album of the year" on my personal charts. That album has been released by a musical genius who so far has been more misunderstood than appreciated. "When The Pawn..." is the fulfillment of the promise made by Fiona on her debut album; an amazing musical experiment, a great combination of deep (it's deep people, not weird) lyrics, a sultry voice, and excellent musical arrangements. I'm more than glad to see Fiona taking on a slightly new direction making use of elements not seen or heard on her debut album. It is important to note that this work is less piano/melodic driven than "Tidal" -which still ranks as one of my top ten albums of the past 2 decades- and more focused on experimenting with the jazzy-bluesy feeling that this artist had shared with us on her previous effort. Tracks like "On the Bound," "Limp," and "Paper Bag" are outstanding in presenting Fiona's maturity in vocal and writing power. Likewise, they stand out ib their impeccable combination of Fiona's piano and other elements of percussion as well as some loops. In this regard this album compares with Tori Amos' "From the ChoirGirl Hotel" and Suzanne Vega's "99.9F" both of which meant gigantic leaps for the artists into the experimental fields of music. Some listeners may find that a general sense of anger and sadness prevails through most of the tracks, especially on tracks like "Get Gone" (my favorite) and "Love Ridden" but you cannot expect an artist like Fiona, after what you heard on "Tidal" to be singing happy ditties.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Fiona Apple returns in rare form in "When the Pawn..." (plus about ninety more words), her sophomore album -- and one of the rare ones that actually improves on the first. Her passionate bluesy-jazzy sound is blended with her strong, sensitive vocals and one soul-baring song after another.

"Hell don't know my fury." You said it, Fiona. Anger and melancholy permeate her songs, including the rage of "Limp" ("But no matter what I try/You'll beat me with your bitter lies") and the restrained quality of piano-bombast "The Way Things Are." Even the musically gentle "I Know" has a deep sadness, starting to move past some of the bitterness and anger coming before it, and early on Apple seems to apologize for her romantic shortcomings.

Female singer-songwriters are a dime a dozen today, but few of them do much more than set basic pop songs to acoustic guitar and piano. But Fiona Apple forges ahead with a noncomformist attitude and strong songs. In a nutshell, she comes across as an excellent musician, with all the power you'd expect from such a singer. And every song is a winner, gut-wrenching and beautiful in its intensity.

Musically, it has almost as much impact as her writing does. The music is often led by Apple's piano -- not tinkly piano, but dark, fast melodies that match her songs in rhythm and intensity. Percussion booms in songs like "Limp," as if giving vent to Apple's feelings. And cropping up from time to time are odd gurgles and squiggles, as well as some well-blended horn arrangements in the background.

Apple's voice is strong and assured, but it also has that rare quality of expressing vast amounts of emotion. Without, I might add, sounding overwrought.
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Format: Audio CD
When 1996's 'Tidal' came out, it was clear that its' young vocalist was no flash in the pan. Despite an overall sense of gloominess and woe-is-me, Apple's debut was regarded as exceptionally stunning, drawing accolades for its' unmissable single 'Criminal' and the magical 'Sleep to dream'. It was thus no surprise that people anticipated her follow up album with sky-high expectations of it. In 1999, Apple unveiled her second album, the curiously titled 'When the pawn hits the conflicts...'. The full title actually works out to a mini-poem of sorts, and one that makes LSD-ish sense upon repeated reading. ...Rarely have there been albums where every single song is an unrivalled gem, but this is one of them (non-believers, you'd have to actually buy this CD to know what I'm talking about). Now, both sides of the Atlantic have sung their praises of this album, and I still can't get enough of it, despite listening to the album in its entirety over - literally - more than a hundred times.
The opener, 'On the Bound' is a contradictory anthem of deep longing - despite the fierce independent tone of the title, we find Fiona wailing 'You're all I need' with a passion quite unseen since Sinead O'Connor's classic howls on 'Mandinka'. The second track 'To your love' is a grand ode to love, with the songstress apologising for her seeming indifference - 'Please forgive me for my distance' she whispers. This particular track is very effective, and frankly, its almost bewildering how Apple hasn't got the recognition and album sales that she so obviously deserves. Honestly, don't people know how to appreciate good music anymore? As if to reaffirm my bewilderment, the third, and perhaps most gutsy track on the album, simply floors you.
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