by Nancy McDonald

Hell hath no fury like an Apple scorned. No, I’m not referring to the late Steve Jobs. It’s Fiona Apple. For me, she is a rare talent. I find that most artists or bands strike gold with their first albums and then sort of fall flat for the next few. I find that with Apple, however, I like each new album a little more than the last. She can be feisty, heartbroken, in love, definitely not in love, bitter and sentimental all in one album. She has released three studio albums: Tidal, When the Pawn…, and Extraordinary Machine. Her fourth studio album, The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (yep, that’s the complete title) will be released on June 19, 2012. Here are a few of my favorite Fiona Apple songs:

1. “Oh Well” – Extraordinary Machine
Anyone who’s ever been misled by a significant other can identify with Apple’s lyrics here. She’s mad, regretful, pouring her heart out to the person who stole her peace and quiet. She laments, “What wasted unconditional love/On somebody who doesn’t believe in the stuff.” She almost throws herself into a frenzy, getting angrier with each bar, but at the last minute she refrains from any kind of real explosion. She gives up. Oh well.

2. “Fast As You Can” – When the Pawn
Apple pleads with a new suitor to reconsider his choice. I mean, hasn’t he listened to her first album? As much as I love Fiona Apple, she isn’t exactly the most… emotionally stable person. But this gentleman is willing to put up with whatever she has to throw at him (literally and figuratively, I assume) just to have her.

3. “I Walk a Little Faster” – The Best is Yet to Come
This comes from a compilation of artists performing songs by Cy Coleman. I quite like the change of pace for Apple. Instead of being mad or upset, hurt and bruised, and utterly “half-empty,” she provides some hope. She’s alone, but knows that love is just around the corner. This is a beautiful little jazzy number and her fragile, yet determined voice makes the song. If Apple were to make an entire jazz album, I’d stand in line to buy it.

4. “Carrion” – Tidal
Whatever she felt for this man wasn’t strong enough to last. He can do nothing to make her stay. There are no flattering words, voodoo spells, or heroic efforts that will change her mind. Cue tempo change. Now she’s not sure. There’s still a part of her that wants to give it another go. Cue another tempo change. She’s back to knowing, for sure, that she wants to toss this guy aside. Oh, wait, maybe not. Anyone who’s been in love with someone but thinks maybe it’s time to move on will know exactly what she’s singing about here.

5. “Extraordinary Machine” – Extraordinary Machine
Any time I’m feeling a little blue and need a 3.5 minute pick-me-up, I listen to this song. It’s possibly the happiest song she’s released (outside of “Frosty the Snowman“) and you can almost hear her smiling as she’s sings, “Be kind to me/Or treat me mean/I’ll make the most of it/I’m an extraordinary machine.” Apple is more known for her doom and gloom, mad at the world, misery loves company type songs. But “Extraordinary Machine” is a rare instance in which Apple even hints at being a content– though by no means perfect– human being. And, hell, if Fiona Apple can manage to be happy every now and then, there’s no reason why we all can’t be happy here and there as well.