The Canadian powerhouse returns...

In her first album since 2012, Canadian star Alanis Morissette is unflinchingly honest as she has always been but with a soft- spoken resignation that comes with growing older.

‘Such Pretty Forks In The Road’ is Morissette’s ninth record, and she is still a powerhouse of cutting lyricism and emotive delivery ; however, when juxtaposed with the lacerating rage of 1995’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ which catapulted her to fame as the symbol of young female angst, her newest record aches with the absence of a defiant, rebellious heart.

Opening with the 80s-influenced slow-rock offering ''Smiling', the album doesn’t immediately impress but the contemplative vibe does urge you to stay on and listen. On tracks like the charming 'Ablaze', written for her children, the minimalist yet instrumental-centric 'Missing The Miracle' or the piano and electric guitar- led 'Losing The Plot', which hinges on the metaphor-heavy Morisette showcases an easy versatility as she flows between lyrical ingenuity and musical simplicity.

But it’s on lead single and undeniable stand-out of the record, 'Reasons I Drink' Morissette reminds that maturity and growth hasn’t touched her untamed talent. Detailing her struggles with addiction and her inability to set limits, the track places raw lyrics over an upbeat piano soundscape -making for track that’s jarring in the best of ways.

Her no-holds barred approach to topics like mental health, addiction, sexual abuse, etc and her well-established lyrical prowess are familiar, loved and impressive. But as the acoustic stylings of 'Reckoning' blends with melancholic tune of 'Diagnosis' and the earthy piano tones of 'Her', all her stories - of being wronged, of suffering from postpartum depression, and wanting to reach out for help - blend and blur leaving behind despite the emotions she pours into them.

Morissette seems to disappear into a cocoon of memories and experiences encompassed by unfortunately unimaginative musicality. But she re-emerges on the brilliantly immersive 'Sandbox Love', which looks into the intimate journey of developing a healthy relationship with sex as a survivor of abuse. The powerful track about love and healing is the album’s tentatively mature approach at its boldest, finest and best.

From this to the haunting closer 'Pedestal', she harkens back to her outspoken past self, trading in the nostalgia and resignation she’s held throughout the album for a spark of relatable bitterness with a tale about a loved one who climbed the social ladder by using her name. It may not be the best closing track, but there’s a note of reflective yet confident finality that indicates that the singer is moving forward.

Though the echo of intricate lyricism and impactful delivery remain scattered in abundance throughout the album, it falters in its steps more than it strides.

Overall, ‘Such Pretty Forks In The Road’ is relatable in parts and uninspired in others but for a few key moments of simple brilliance it’s worth a listen.

7/10

Words: Malvika Padin

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