Fiona Apple is a firestorm of passion and intensity, her songs a diary-immersion into first-person melodrama and self-analytical female empowerment. Like pages ripped from the diary of a scorned woman trying to make peace with her demons, the arresting intimacy of her compositions has become a beloved trademark for fans.
Apple's follow-up to 2005's Extraordinary Machine has been reportedly finished for more than a year, and with a new album waiting to be unleashed and touring plans on the horizon, we thought now would be a great time to reflect on ten of Fiona Apple's best songs from her three releases and non-album work.
The Extraordinary Machine title track, and among the only that didn't go through a metamorphical transformation during the lengthy delays before the album's eventual release. On her official site, Fiona Apple says that this song represents how she feels about herself. Originally recorded in 2003, then reworked and re-recorded for a 2005 official release, the album is a testament to Apple's artistic perseverance. The title track is most strongly indicative of this, an autobiographical narrative of self-affirmation. Simple, with gorgeously plucked strings and a delicate nature throughout (particularly in the light-as-air refrain before the final verse), it makes for one of Apple's most captivating – and uplifting – songs.
Fast as You Can
A breathless jumbling stream-of-consciousness jam in which Fiona confirms our suspicions (yep, she's bonkers) and begs her beloved to get the hell away from her – before she draws him in to a fight he can't ever hope to win."I don't know how to live without my hand on his throat," she muses in the opening lines. Not too many women can turn psychosis sexy. This one can.
Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)
This Extraordinary Machine gem chronicles giving in to the foolish temptations of returning to past loves. Is the pointless cycle continuing, or just a revisit to the danger zone?
A creeping, delicate verse leads to an impossibly catchy and cute chorus revolving around unrequited, desperate love. The struggle for self-control amidst the deepest of desires is endearing, the self-realization of futile emotion – no matter how passionate – over lush piano chords and a quiet beat flurry. The chorus sweeps you up like a soft torndado, Apple's front-loaded vocals hypnotically hopeless as they creep up your spine.
Get Him Back
After spending two verses plotting her revenge on the boy who wronged her, she comes to the realization that she's been recklessly dismissive with rebound suitors, and backpedals by way of clever lyrical device.
The imagery is a severe and emasculating gut-punch to the male recipient of the lyrics: "It won't be long till you'll be lying limp in your own hands." Could there be a more cutting send-off?
Sleep to Dream
The first track on the Tidal album is a seething state of the disunion, the narrator fed up with being misled by her lover. Her grounded reality has deconstructed and targeted his pride and deviance, and the gauntlet has been thrown down.
Fiona's first hit single, about a girl who just can't help using men, is the perfect introduction into miss Apple's world. She's a man-eater with a conscience, and this Grammy-winning number from Fiona's first album is a sublime depiction of conflicted female conscience, tethered to the heart.
Like a morning kiss in silence, "Parting Gift" arrives with a gorgeous, simple elegance – soon to be led down a minor-key path into melancholia and pounding-chord memories of a love gone awry. Lamenting not listening to the signs earlier, but ultimately deciding the agony was worth the sweetness, it's a tender song of reflection, an I'm-not-sorry glance back at a doomed love.
The First Taste
Waiting at the starting line for a promised love to step up and join her, Fiona writhes with desire as she begs "Give me the first taste; Let it begin, heaven cannot wait forever". The desire is palpable, the gravity inescapable.
Bonus: Across The Universe
From the Pleasantville soundtrack, this Beatles cover is an absolute gem of delicate beauty. Aching, bittersweet and ethereal, Apple's performance shines, her trademark backhand love de-fanged for a moment of pure love. Her delivery of the"Jai guru deva om" line (loose Sanskrit for "glory to the shining remover of darkness") is like being embraced by a dream.