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Alanis Morissette
SO-CALLED CHAOS
(Maverick)
Stars graphics

By now, she oughta know. After two fumbling attempts at teen pop, Alanis Morissette reinvented herself as the queen of catharsis with 1998ís Jagged Little Pill (Maverick). But what knocked that disc out of the park wasnít the Canadian singer-songwriterís tortured phrasing or even her confessional rhymes so much as the pure rage of the single, "You Oughta Know." Since then, two more original CDs (and numerous repackagings) have capitalized on the popularity of her tell-all lines while failing to reproduce that initial musical explosiveness.

On So-Called Chaos, the her first all-new disc since 2002ís Under Rug Swept, the singer-songwriter almost returns to the sound as well as the fury. Giving up some of the production duties to John Shanks and Tim Thorney helps, as that pair put some musical heft behind her thin voice. The best track, opener "Eight Easy Steps," re-creates that big-rock thrust, and the title song matches her wail to a Zeppelin-like attack, all distortion and beat. Too often, though, her love of Indian-style quavers only makes her inverted rhymes and nasal voice more painful ó notably on the truly annoying "Knees of My Bees" and in the painful straight-from-therapy rhymes of "Out Is Thru." "Towel throwing" and "eternal vowing"? Címon. Lacking the vocal range of a Sinéad OíConnor or the clarity of a Tori Amos, Alanis Morissette is not moving forward, and neither has she truly learned the lessons of her past.

BY CLEA SIMON


Issue Date: May 21 - 27, 2004
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