When The Pawn...
Fiona Apple
(Clean Slate/Epic)
Nov 15  '99

by Steve Dougherty

When last seen, the juicy-sounding Apple was launching her 1996 hit "Criminal" with a teenage-boy-friendly video in which she flitted about a bedroom in her underwear. She looked oversexed, undernourished and underage. Now the singer-songwriter is 22, and her voice has dropped into a husky, more worldly alto that makes her sound more woman than waif. While she sounded on her debut album as if at the mercy of her emotions and in the throes of unrequited love, she is now the one who holds the reins in romance. Singing in a jazzy drawl, she informs an old object of obsession ("Love Ridden") that the nights of hopping in bed with him are over: "I want your warm [body]/ But it'll only make me colder when it's over. . . . Only kisses on the cheek from now on." Apple's sharp songwriting, gorgeous vocals, spare atmospheric piano and drum-driven production make her sophomore work a beauty. 

Bottom Line: Delicious Apple