Such Pretty Forks in the Road is the ninth studio album by Canadian-American singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette, released on July 31, 2020, through Epiphany Music and Thirty Tigers in North America, and by RCA and Sony Music in the United Kingdom and Europe. It is Morissette's first studio album in eight years, following 2012's Havoc and Bright Lights. The album was preceded by the singles "Reasons I Drink" and "Smiling", the latter being a new song written for the Jagged Little Pill stage musical.
Morissette had been working on the album since at least mid-2017. In August 2017 on Anna Faris' podcast Unqualified, Morissette revealed the name of a new song called "Reckoning". She described this song as "patriarchy falling down", and said it was in reference to her day in court in regards to the trial in which others were accused of embezzling from her. In early October 2017, on her own podcast Conversation with Alanis Morissette, she detailed a new song called "Diagnosis", in which she describes postpartum depression and how she felt better when she knew what was going on with herself. Later that month at the tribute concert Linkin Park and Friends: Celebrate Life in Honor of Chester Bennington, Morissette was invited as a guest to perform "Castle of Glass" and a new song of hers called "Rest." She said that she had been working with Mike Farrell and writing new demos.
In March 2018, Morissette previewed another new song from the album called "Ablaze", dedicated to her children. In August 2018 on Laura Whitmore's Sunday Session on BBC Radio 5 Live, she stated that the new album would be a "piano record", and that "Rest" would make the final cut.
In August 2019, Morissette revealed that she was working with Alex Hope and Catherine Marks on her as-of-then untitled record. She announced the album in December 2019, also debuting "Reasons I Drink" and the song "Smiling" during a performance at the Apollo Theater in New York City on 2 December, the latter of which was described as "sanguine" by Suzy Exposito of Rolling Stone.
On April 16, 2020, Morissette announced that the album would be postponed to a later date from its initial release date of May 1, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and announced that "Diagnosis" would be released as the third single on April 24, 2020.
Morissette was scheduled to embark on a world tour for the 25th anniversary of her 1995 album Jagged Little Pill in June 2020, during which she would perform songs from her entire career, including songs from Such Pretty Forks in the Road. As of May 2020 the tour has been postponed to 2021 following concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
Twenty-five years ago, Alanis Morissette became an overnight superstar because she was jilted and angry and she thought the world ought to know. Now that she’s older, she seems to have reconciled some of her demons but the embers of her angst have been replaced with generalized anxiety and depression on Such Pretty Forks in the Road, which is her first record in eight years and ninth overall. If Such Pretty Forks is to be taken as autobiography, she’s now a middle-aged mother who suffers insomnia, recognizes her addictions, trips out on acid occasionally, and, after surviving some sort of nervous breakdown, has a firm grip on irony. Her lyrics are still sharp, and there’s plenty of drama and tension throughout, but unfortunately her cris de coeur don’t translate to catchy, cutting songs.
The best track here, “Reasons I Drink,” finds the onetime grunge-pop poster child taking stock of how she reached her midlife crisis — she’s been “working since [she] can remember, since [she] was single digits,” and she doesn’t know how to define her limitations — and she details her addictions over a jaunty, upbeat piano line. None of it is particularly hummable, but you feel for her when she sings, “Nothing can give me a break from this torture.” She spends much of the rest of the record in that feeling of purgatory.
See Alanis Morissette's Daughter Sabotage Her 'Ablaze' Performance on 'Fallon'
Alanis Morissette Settles the Whole 'Ironic' Thing, Once and For All
On the opening number, “Smiling,” she revisits the contemplative vibe of “Uninvited” to narrate her “life of extremes” and “the anatomy of [her] crash.” But the feeling quickly transitions to adult-contempo schmaltz, and she dwells in the sort of soft-rock twilight zone that her Nineties recordings seemed to rebel against. And she stays in that realm for much of the rest of the record. So while she has caustic observations (“You see the figure skater, I fear the ice is thin,” she sings on “Missing the Miracle”), they’re often buried in plinky, rhythm-less, new agey soundscapes that have more in common with that other Nineties music juggernaut, Windham Hill, than the sounds people summon when they think of her.
Her personal revelations about “the end of Superwoman-ing” on the insomniac rumination “Losing the Plot” sound ironically sleepy. She picks apart a litany of ways she’s been wronged on “Reckoning,” even describing her death in the third verse — but it’s a gentle reckoning with acoustic guitars and strings. And on “Her,” she sings of being on her kitchen floor, wanting to reach out for help over a warm piano line. For all the emotion she pours into crafting her stories, her songs seem to blur together. The record’s most interesting tale — the final tune, “Pedestal,” which could double as “You Oughta Know, Part Two,” since she curses a friend or ex who climbed the social ladder by dropping her name — might be too gentle to raise the eyebrows of the person she’s skewering. For all of its melancholy, Such Pretty Forks feels personal but never profound.
SOURCE: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-album-reviews/alanis-morissette-such-pretty-forks-in-the-road-review-1036004/ User Comments