Music

Songs of redemption

KAREN BLISS November 23 1998
Music

Songs of redemption

KAREN BLISS November 23 1998

Songs of redemption

Music

Alanis Morissette whips up some rock V soul

SUPPOSED FORMER INFATUATION JUNKIE Alanis Morissette (Maverick/Warner)

After the massive success of her 1995 album, Jagged Little Pill, which sold a record-breaking 28 million copies worldwide, Alanis Morissette told journalists she wasn’t sure she could bear to make another record. Emerging from the dizzying maelstrom

of superstardom—and some 300 concerts around the globe —she escaped with a backpack to India and Cuba. Over the course of 18 months, the singer indulged in some major soul-searching. And then Morissette returned to Canada with a new perspective on God, fame, family and friends.

But she says she was still loath to continue in the music business until, paradoxically, a friend in Toronto reminded her that she could call it quits if she wanted to. Like Jagged Little Pill, the new record,

Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, is an exercise in selfexploration and poetic release. And it is even more powerful than its forerunner.

Morissette, now 24, has teamed up again with her Jagged Little Pill songwriting collaborator and producer, Los Angeles-based Glen Ballard (Wilson Phillips,

Paula Abdul). But this time, she co-produced the Eastern-flavored album. As with

the earlier collection, many of the lyrics on Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie read like adaptations from diary entries. And again the Ottawa native, who enjoyed Canadian fame as a teenage recording artist of innocuous dance-pop music, proves she is a master of phrasing, pulling apart words and stretching out syllables to make lyrics fit melodies, and flying quickly and effortlessly from one register to another.

Her travels still fresh in her mind, Morissette questions blind religious faith in Baba. And in Thank U, she expresses her gratitude to India for the new perceptions and the peace she experienced there. One is a prayer of atonement—a litany of confessions (“I’m

the biggest hypocrite/I’ve been undeniably jealous”) and a plea for forgiveness. But the album is not just about spiritual awakening. Morissette addresses relationships in several songs—with an ex in Are You Still Mad (it has none of the vitriol of the infamous You Oughta Know on Jagged Little Pill), with friends and lovers in Unsent, and with her mother in Heart of the House.

Among the most poignant—and catchiest—selections are So Pure, about complete

freedom and dancing with physical abandon, and Would Not Come, in which she seems resigned to the notion that pure happiness is unattainable. Morissette sings, “If I am famous then maybe I’ll feel good in this skin,” knowing now more than ever how illusory that is.

Morissette has discovered that life at the top is not all it’s cracked up to be. Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie further exposes the vulnerabilities of the young woman who bared her soul on Jagged Little Pill, and shows that she is richer in more than just dollars.

KAREN BLISS