Alanis Morissette’s new album: “Pretty Forks”

WITHUltimately, she was no longer noticed musically, but as a relationship consultant: In the “Guardian” Alanis Morissette started a column in 2016 in which she was humorously identified as “agony aunt” (“Qual-Aunt”) and answered reader questions on marriage, sexuality and cheating . Anyone who knows songs about her will of course be able to say that she became a therapist much earlier – think, for example, of her ballad “That I Would Be Good”: It is a kind of musical oath to love yourself and even then easy to find if you should get fatter or stupid, if you are insulted or go bankrupt.

Jan Many

That was balm for the (American) teenage soul, 20 years ago and even afterwards like to be rubbed a million times. And it was possibly also a self-therapy by a singer a few years earlier, barely of legal age by American standards, who suddenly became a rock star and mass idol: her album “Jagged Little Pill” (1995) sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and whoever did not at least who knows singles (and music videos) for “You Oughta Know”, “Hand in My Pocket” or “Ironic”, probably did not hear any pop music in the 1990s.

The singer was staged as a female figurehead of grunge rock, while the music wasn’t that bulky. The lyrics, on the other hand, testified a rebellion, especially against patronizing men: “You took me out to wine dine, sixtynine me / But didn’t hear a damn word I said”, she sang at the time in “I See Right Through You”.

With the huge success apparently came the desire of record companies for more tame, smoothness and more pronounced beauty: the teeth of hardly a pop star were exhibited like that of Alanis Morissette. The grim showing of teeth, on the other hand, seemed almost over with “Jagged Little Pill”, there were still several albums to follow, but they were not remembered.

As she told the Guardian in a role change, this time as an interviewed patient, Alanis Morissette herself needed therapy. Her first album in eight years, released today, deals with this, addiction, pain, healing and revenge. It is called “Such Pretty Forks in the Road” and thus already indicates important fork in life. The singer has grown into a mature woman who now shares her experiences and where she turned wrong or right.

First of all, gratifying: your chutzpah seems to be back. Diagnose me what you want, if it makes you feel better, sing it in “Diagnosis”. She skillfully turns the tables, explains the doctors to the actually sick. And in the springy up-tempo number “Reasons I Drink” she explains how every sip helps when you are busy surviving a “sick industry” – in fact she was cheated by her manager for seven million dollars and is now calculating “Reckoning” and “Pedestal” with him.

But concessions are obviously necessary, because the music unfortunately doesn’t quite come along. Did Morissette have an affair with Andreas Bourani or Helene Fischer? For a few years now, the rule has obviously been that a hit single in the chorus must have wordless, soccer stadium-compatible “oh-he-oh-e” singing passages. So also “Reasons I Drink” – unfortunately it doesn’t fit here at all. In the same way, “Sandbox Love” smoothly fades into today’s pop mainstream of indistinguishable party songs where you don’t know what they’re celebrating.

“Nemesis” is a symphonic synthetic bombast that blurs in the reverb and quickly lets you forget the text. The idea of ​​car or beer advertising is not far from here. It is interesting to note that it is only after five minutes that the sound image shows that a real drum kit has been used. But the song is almost over, a classic case of “produced to death”. That would have been a horror to the rock musician from 1995.

What Alanis Morissette reports in this interview about lifelong exploitation, not only in the music business, sounds dramatic and shameful. But she has not yet found the right musical expression with this album. Unfortunately, like the song “Missing the Miracle”, she is constantly missing the miracle. That’s a shame – because you occasionally hear through all layers of sound what a good, actually wonderful voice it has.