Artist: Alanis Morissette
Album: Havoc and Bright Lights
Released: August 27th
Very few artists have had a career like Alanis Morissette. For a number of years one of the world’s biggest music stars, the Canadian singer/songwriter became the voice of a generation in the 1990’s.
While it may have been easy to simply try and bottle lightning twice, Alanis never did, instead choosing to fluctuate between tones, style and everything in between for the next decade.
It may sound simplistic to say it, but no two Alanis albums are alike. Taking her sound writing ammunition from her life at the time, unless you know her personally, you never know what you’re going to get.
While she was angry in the nineties, contemplative in the early 2000s, Havoc and Bright Lights sees Alanis almost joyously happy. The songs reflect this, light and breezy in comparison to some of her earlier work.
The opener Guardian is the absolute epitome of this, all protective lyrics and soaring choruses with shredding guitars in the background. It’s not hard to figure out it’s a song directly pointed at her current family with lyrics like “I’ll be your angel on call, I’ll be on demand.”
Don’t worry though; this is still definitely an Alanis album. Her wonderfully raw vocal is the cornerstone of the album, giving her usually poetic lyrics the extra punch they don’t need but always get.
While she’s always experimented with various styles, Havoc and Bright Lights is easily her most accomplished test to date, although the touch of producer Guy Sigsworth can be clearly felt throughout, his tendency to unleash almost a grab bag of world music a constant presence.
This idea of blending sits throughout the album, as Alanis easily mixes varying musical styles from song to song. We go from the angsty Woman Down to the nicely poppy Empathy and end at the almost dancey Spiral, a style that harks all the way back to her origins.
Celebrity even manages to combine traditional rock riffs, ethnic drumming and electro undertones onto a single track with great aplomb and is a real highlight of the album. Havoc stands out too, a tender, insular track akin to some of her earlier work.
Not everything on the album’s a hit though, with the soppy ‘Til You far too saccharine for an artist like Alanis to really get away with. One low out of twelve’s not bad going though.
While Havoc and Bright Lights doesn’t have the edge and verve of Alanis’ older work, it’s a radical departure from Flavours of Entanglement (its far closer to So Called Chaos in tone) and a successful blending of styles that suits a newly settled Alanis.
Alanis Morrissette – Havoc and Bright Lights is out August 27th
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith