When The Pawn... News and pre-release hysteria
3/16/02 - When the Pawn has gone platinum!
10/2 - From Fiona's official biography
"With the songs, the writing, the work in the studio," Fiona Apple says, "this time it was a lot more me-an uninhibited me, a confident me."
When The Pawn is soul music of a remarkably ambitious and highly original kind. Impressionistic string arrangements meet funky hip-hop rhythms and syncopa-tions that hearken the spirit of jazz; lyrics of rare truth-telling set up an intimate con-versation between artist and listener; and singing of sheer, strong beauty inspires and resonates. "Fast As You Can" is the first single and video-the latter directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) who also lensed Fiona's striking video for "Across The Universe,"
With When The Pawn, 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.
Everything began to coalesce when Fiona chose to work with producer and multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion (Aimee Mann, Rufus Wainwright). "We're friends." says the singer. "He'd played all over my first album. And he's wonderful to work with. Jon has a million ideas in his head and references of almost everything that's ever been re-corded."
"We communicated perfectly. I'd hum something or make a gesture with my hand or suggest a mood, and he'd know exactly what I wanted. And with Rich Costey engi-neering, the work could not have gone better." Fiona laid down piano tracks and sang with greater ease and intensity than she ever had before. The album's sup-porting cast included keyboardist Patrick Warren, who adds his patented touch on the chamber-lain (a pre-synth sampler, its keys activate 8-track tapes of various instru-ments); vir-tuoso drummer Matt Chamberlain; and other veteran players on woodwinds, bass, guitar and percussion.
Throughout When The Pawn, the playing is elegant, assured. From the shifting rhythms of "Fast As You Can" to the distorted guitar of "Get Gone" to the majestic gospel-like purity of "I Know," the music approaches a jazz sense of freedom. Fiona's lyrics match this risk-taking: in the bittersweet tenderness of "On the Bound" ("It's true, I do imbue my blue into myself"), in the wordplay of "To Your Love" ( "My derring-do allows me to dance the rigadoon/Around you"), in the close-up cinematic detail of "Love Ridden" ( With the focus I gave to my birthday candles/I've wished on the lidded blue flames/Under your Brow").
When The Pawn proves that Tidal was no accident, but paved the way for richer music. "For a while, I was really afraid of not being able to write new songs," Fiona admits. "I've never wanted to put out an album I wasn't proud of." Trusting herself and her vision, in time Fiona found that new music was emerging.
"Mainly I write to clarify my thoughts and feelings," she explains, "and when I sing, I just concentrate on getting my point across. I just want to make a statement and make it right."
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.