Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters review – a glorious eruption

(Epic)
The unhurried artist’s first studio album in eight years is astonishing, intimate and demonstrates a refusal to be silenced

The re-emergence of Fiona Apple, eight years after her last studio album, is not quite dolphins returning to the waterways of Venice, but an argument at least for the benefits of letting a musician lie fallow. Apple has always been an unhurried artist – there have been just five albums across her 24-year career, but a recent New Yorker profile documented how richly she used that time to replenish and create.

Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters album art work
Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters album art work Photograph: Publicity image

The Apple of 2020 is astonishing; as if she has returned to reinvent sound – the rhythms pleasing, but counter, and unusual. On the title track she half-sings over a makeshift orchestra of kitchen implements, dog bark and cat yowl. The beat on Kick Me Under the Table has a seething back-and-forth pace; the extraordinary For Her beds double Dutch skipping rope rhythms beneath a chorus of female voices.

It’s striking how intimate Apple’s voice sounds here – half-conversational, half-self-mutters, allowing every scuff, breath and feral yelp. She is at her most familiar on Ladies, hollering over a soulful backdrop, chewing her own voice like tobacco, then letting it take sweet, sudden flight.

The recurring lyrical theme is a refusal to be silenced: “The cool kids wanted to get rid of me,” she warns. “Kick me under the table all you want, I won’t shut up”. And again: “I’ve been sucking it in so long / that I’m busting at the seams.” The result is that this seems not so much an album as a sudden glorious eruption; after eight long years, an urgent desire to be heard.

Contributor

Laura Barton

The GuardianTramp

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