Fiona Apple - Tidal
Work/Clean Slate

iMusic    '96
by M. Sullivan

The story of how Fiona Apple was "discovered" fits right in with those other incredible - and by now legendary - tales of serendipitous discovery.  These stories usually involve a chance meeting of some sort - an unexpected encounter with an industry heavyweight - while working as a clerk in a grocery store, changing planes in an airport, waiting in line to get into a crowded discotheque.  Fiona Apple's story goes something like this: she'd been living in LA, and had just finished working on her demo tape, when she decided to fly home to New York for Christmas.  Once there, she handed a copy of the tape to a family friend who, in turns out, often baby-sat for a bigwig music industry executive.  The friend gave the tape to the exec, who in turn played it at a party he was throwing.  As fate would have it, producer and manager Andrew Slater was attending the party, and upon hearing the tape, was immediately intrigued.

After listening to Tidal, Apple's debut album, it's not hard to see why.   At eighteen, she's an accomplished vocalist and pianist, and her material suggests a wealth of experience and a wisdom that belies her young age.  Many of the tracks on Tidal find Apple diving into the depths of profound emotion, exploring areas like passion, loss, sexual desire and even sexual abuse, all in her smooth, soulful, smoldering voice.  Highlights on the album include "Shadowboxer;" the sultry, languorous "Slow Like Honey;" "Criminal" ("And it's a sad, sad world/When a girl will break a boy/Just because she can") and "Sullen Girl," a slow, melancholy track which speaks to Apple's experience of being raped by a stranger when she was twelve.  While there are some awkward moments to be found on Tidal, they are, for the most part, few and far between.  Taken as whole, the album is engaging because it comes across as honest and true; perhaps most impressive about Apple's debut is the heartfelt manner in which it has been presented.  fin