"Where was I last night? On a bus with eight men!" says churlish singer Fiona Apple. "I'm the only girl on the tour bus, and the weird thing is that it doesn't feel weird. It proves to me that I can get along with men."
Not just men, but a lot of others who've been, well, moved by Fiona's first album, Tidal, a dark, sultry, piano-driven piece of introspection whose occasional funky twists keep it from diving into self-pity territory (though it's definitely more of a moody, evening thing). Spurred on by the dusky tones of her single "Shadowboxer," men do seem to make up a large portion of those falling under Fiona's soul-baring spell. Of course, the fact that the nineteen-year-old native New Yorker's not too hard on the eyes probably doesn't hurt either--depending on who you ask. "Think of all the different showbiz jobs there are," says Apple, "and if you're a musician, you're required to be all of them--actress, comedian (which I'm not), and especially model--80 percent of the time, which sucks! You sit in front of a mirror for four hours while they do makeup and hair, and by the time you leave, one blemish on your face is, like, such a big deal. It takes a couple hours to get out of it and realize 'Oh...there's a whole universe of meaningful things out here.'"
In Fiona's world, very meaningful. As a child she spent a lot of time "by myself, in my head," then passed a good chunck of her early teens in therapy because her elders thought she was strange. She also says she's been "almost ashamed of being a sensitive person 'cause it's just not cool," so it's not surprising to discover that she holds Maya Angelou's poetry and John Irving's novel The Hotel New Hampshire closest to her tortured little heart. But at least she's tortured in a good, realistic way: A self-possessed spitfire currently rooming with her dad until she finds safe harbor and "do whatever the hell I feel like at any given time."