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October 21, 2020

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Icon music review: Such Pretty Forks in the Road - Alanis Morissette 

This Alanis Morissette album is a masterpiece, beautiful and surprising

Reviewed by Craig Hoffman
Such Pretty Forks in the Road is the ninth studio album by Canadian-American singer, songwriter, and actress Alanis Morissette. It is Morissette’s first studio album in eight years. Morissette had been working on the album since at least mid-2017. But it was worth the wait.

Morissette was scheduled to embark on a world tour for the 25th anniversary of her 1995 album Jagged Little Pill in 2020, during which she would perform songs from her entire career, including songs from Such Pretty Forks in the Road. 

The tour has been postponed to 2021 following concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Despite world events, the album has been both a critical and commercial success. It’s one of the artist’s best overall efforts with its eleven compositions.

The opening track “Smiling” has chords that remind of ‘classic’ Alanis. It harkens back to Radiohead's “My Iron Lung.” The smooth vocal lines are music magic. And the great hits keep right on coming.

“Ablaze,” a highlight on an album full of highlights, is amazing, bringing in imagery to explore the strong relationship between a mother and her child. “My mission is to keep the light in your eyes ablaze,” she sings to her boy.

Morissette has spoken in recent interviews about suffering from postpartum depression, and doesn’t shy away from the topic on this record. Numerous great compositions speak to her audience as a woman, mother, and troubled soul 

The oft-troubled singer describes herself as a “highly sensitive person.” A full range of emotions are on display. This is a deep album by any measure. And that is a credit to the artist and her stellar production team.

The piano and Morissette’s fantastic vocals are enjoyed on “Her.” On another standout song “Nemesis,” Morissette describes difficulties in facing change. The chorus has a happy and strong feeling. “Pedestal” is a slow and gentle finale to a fantastic record that is a must-listen for any music fan.

If there is a complaint, one might like to see some of the lyrics tightened up or even shortened at times. For all the emotion in her stories, songs do tend to mix in theme, words, and style. But that’s a minor annoyance, especially from a three-time Grammy Award winner, and it’s one easily overlooked on this great effort.

Final Take: This Alanis Morissette album is a masterpiece, beautiful and surprising. Such Pretty Forks in the Road is a can’t-miss buy for fans of heartfelt music done with artistic flair. It’s sublime! 4.75/5.

Craig Hoffman is a music graduate of Ohio Northern University and The University of Akron School of Music. He also serves as the Icon’s Japan correspondent.