The female-as-victim has come a long way in today's alternative rock universe. While some like Alanis Morissette have chosen to yell and kick their way to the top, demanding to be met on their own emotionally fragile but intellectually secure terms, others such as Fiona Apple seem to only want to curl in a ball and hide away. Of course, in Apple's case, she has chosen to do so only with the most Calvin Klein-esque seductive poses.
Apple's debut album, Tidal, was released in 1996, when she was only 19, and immediately received press for catching the pop music wave. An introspective album that was very much that of a young, not-completely-formed talent, Tidal introduced Apple prematurely (though with the expertise of Van Dyke Parks arranging several of the album's songs). One can only wonder how Apple's organic development may have unfolded had her three-song music demo taken a bit longer to land in manager Andrew Slater's hands. However, she achieved enormous success, opening on tour for Chris Isaak and Counting Crows, hiting the top 10 with her singles "Shadowboxer" and "Criminal," appearing on MTV Unplugged and Saturday Night Live, and touring as part of Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair.
Apple returned in 1999 with her sophomore effort, the rather puzzlingly and wordily titled (okay, here goes...) When The Pawn Hits The Conflicts He Thinks Like A King What He Knows Throws The Blows When He Goes To The Ring There's No Body To Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand And Remember That Depth Is The Greatest Of Heights And If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where To Land And If You Fall It Won't Matter, 'Cuz You'll Know That You're Right (phew!). The album proved to be as ambitious as its title, full of everything from string arrangements to elements of hip-hop and jazz. Produced by L.A. multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion and featuring Michael Penn's keyboardist Patrick Warren and well as other veteran players, When The Pawn... showcased an older and wiser Fiona Apple, one who's not afraid to branch out and take risks--a far cry from her "victim" persona.