Talented Songstress is a Poet at Core
Indianapolis Star News   
Mar 08, '00

by David Lindquist

Fiona Apple gave her second album a 90-word title, which understandably has become known as the abbreviated When the Pawn.

The recording's essence, however, is buried deeper than the title's three-word introduction. "If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land" isn't too much of a mouthful, is it?

Apple stumbles in the public eye every once in a while, but she's on great footing as an artist.

The 22-year-old singer-songwriter spent Tuesday night at the Murat Theatre, where about 1,800 fans showered her with the 21st century diva treatment usually reserved for Tori Amos and Alanis Morissette.

In reality, the poetic lyrics of When the Pawn place Apple at the head of that class with no legitimate contender.

Within the space of a few songs, she nails what it's like to be indecisive, self-punishing, forgiving, sarcastic, nihilistic and even triumphant in rejection.

One suite within Tuesday's performance grouped the songs Paper Bag, Get Gone and Love Ridden.

Paper Bag unfolded as a silky jazz masterpiece, Apple on piano and daydreaming of a boy until "the dove of hope began its downward slope."

The hell-bent Get Gone swirls together virtually every doubtful emotion in a relationship, and Love Ridden relates the unhappy conclusion of such pursuits: "Only kisses from now on, and in a little while we'll only have to wave."

It's something special to catch a musician performing brilliant material from a current release during the early stages of a national tour.

Frankly, it doesn't happen enough in Indianapolis, and until Tuesday, I hadn't experienced it since a 1997 Radiohead date in a different city.

Apple is now more than a week removed from a well-publicized meltdown during a performance in New York City.

She had isolated moments of frowns and less-than-happy fidgeting at the Murat, but Fiona also smiled, hooted in response to silly crowd noise and danced her spasmodic dance.

Dressed in a black drawstring skirt over pants paired with a pink tank top, she stood most at ease during a two-song encore of cover material.

Apple paid tribute to Indiana native Cole Porter by singing Just One of Those Things to a vintage recorded track and wrapped her evening by jamming with her five-member band on Bill Withers' Kissing My Love.

Remember that the soulful-voiced, highly imaginative Apple is younger (and always will be) than some of those multiplatinum Backstreet Boys coming to town later this week.

She deserves to feel good about where she stands and to worry less about potential landings.