Alanis Morissette’s Such Pretty Forks in the Road: What You Need To Know
For a period in the mid 1990s it seemed almost impossible to go anywhere without hearing one of the songs from Alanis Morissette’s 1995 album Jagged Little Pill. A former child actress whose forays into music as a teenager had produced two modestly successful dance-pop albums in her native Canada - she was once, perhaps uncharitably, described as "the Canadian Debbie Gibson" - Morissette seemed an unlikely candidate for creator of an album that would help define the sound of a decade, especially one which had so far been dominated by grunge, hip-hop, or a blend of both.
As it turned out, Morissette’s rapid trajectory towards guitar-driven, angst-fuelled rock tapped straight into the thriving alt-rock radio scene in America, which combined with near-constant rotation on MTV to transform Jagged Little Pill into an absolute juggernaut of a record that has since shifted an estimated 33 million copies, making it the second-biggest album of all time by a female solo artist (just behind Shania Twain’s Come On Over).
The album proved to be the launch of a career that has since produced a further seven studio albums and seen her periodically resurrect her acting career, appearing in TV series including comedy-drama Weeds and films such as Kevin Smith’s Dogma - as a female iteration of God herself, no less.
Her last album came in the form of 2012’s Havoc & Bright Lights, but after eight years away Alanis returns this week with her ninth album Such Pretty Forks in the Road. The album arrives in stores today, here’s everything you need to know…
A little background…
The first talk of new material from Alanis cam all the way back in 2017 in an appearance on Anna Faris’ podcast Unqualified, in which the singer discussed a new song named ‘Reckoning’. Although the song never made it to the album’s final tracklist, shortly afterward she revealed that she had completed another named ‘Diagnosis’, which appears as the new album’s fourth track.
It would be late in 2019 before the album was finally announced, with the release date first unveiled in December and originally slated to appear in May before being delayed due to ‘the covids’. At the time, Morissette also debuted the album’s first two singles ‘Reasons I Drink’ and ‘Smiling’ during a performance at New York’s Apollo Theater.
Who’s producing it?
As first revealed in 2019, Morissette has been working on the new album with producers Alex Hope and Catherine Marks.
Any special guests?
Nope. Besides Morissette and the producers the only other contributor is Michael Farrell, a longtime member of Morisette’s touring band with whom the singer has co-written all of the album’s 11 tracks.
What does it sound like?
On songs such as ‘Reasons I Drink’ it’s obvious that Morissette still has the knack for penning an anthem, but these days the noisy guitars of her early sound have largely been replaced by piano, which is by far the dominant instrument here, whether it’s pounding away in the lead single or providing a backdrop for some of the album’s more mellow moments - especially on gentle ballads such as ‘Diagnosis’.
From a lyrical point of view, the simmering rage of Jagged Little Pill has mellowed into something more like wry self-awareness, but it’s still every bit as confessional and raw as ever.
Does it deliver?
It may have been eight years since her last outing – and a quarter of a century since Jagged Little Pill, but this is very much the Alanis of old and the album represents a welcome return for one of popular music’s most unique and powerful voices.
Such Pretty Forks in the Road is available in hmv stores now - you can also find it here in our online store.