Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Fierce alternative (indierock) rock, folk/rock, mainstream and alternative pop from eclectic influences. During her early career, when she was known only as Alanis, she did dance music.
Most recent release, Live At Montreux 2012 (live, 2013); most recent studio release, Havoc and Bright Lights (2012)
Alanis Morissette's site
Alanis Morissette's Facebook page
Wikipedia's entry on Alanis Morissette
A fan site
Her voice sounds like Gary Numan on a bad day. (email@example.com)
I don't get the common comparison with Tori Amos. I'm a huge fan of both artists...but I don't catch any similarity. When she did pop music it was really not as like Debbie Gibson as people say it is. In fact, it's NOTHING like Debbie G, whose music was generally softie pop, whereas Alanis was more like...hard Paula Abdul. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
One strange thing—in the song "Head Over Feet", Alanis sounds very much like Carly Simon when she sings the chorus. Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that? (CSARIS@upe.ac.za)
As much as I think that Alanis' first album (Jagged Little Pill) is one of the most important of my era I am amazed at the similarities, at times between her and Ani Difranco in the voice inflections and style. Ani changes up a lot but there are some songs that I think Alanis was listening to when she changed her style from top 40. (FAMarcus@aol.com)
In the music of supposed former infatuation junkie i hear elements of garbage and madonna and several other artists. (Songbird22@aol.com)
She confronts religion as well as Tori Amos and Sinéad O'Connor do, but overall she reminds me more of Patti Smith. Alanis also mentions Brenda Kahn as an influence, and I can see some similarities there, especially with Kahn's work in Destination Anywhere. (email@example.com)
I find too much of Jagged Little Pill very Sheryl Crow-sounding. This isn't a compliment. (Neile)
Writes own lyrics, co-writes some music with Glen Ballard
Before Jagged Little Pill Alanis' music was more like mainstream pop/dance. But she has a powerful voice and catchy lyrics and hooks. I like her stuff, enough in fact that I bought her first album. That was released simply under the name "Alanis" in 1991 on MCA (in Canada anyway), when she was 17 I believe. It produced 4 hits on Canadian Top 40/dance stations. (Matt.Bittner)
For me, it's her twisted sense of humor; she's very sarcastic, but everything she says is a truth, whether it's in her own life or in a universal manner. And her music rises and falls with her mood; it's really an incredible experience. Alanis appears to have truly lived, and hurt, and learned. The big deal about her, to me, is that she's got a powerful voice, great lyrics, and emotionally charged songs. She really doesn't rant or rave, and she says plenty new. (NyxNight@aol.com)
I might like her more if her songs didn't stick in my head with such grating clarity (a trait I find she shares with Abba). (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alanis Morissette seems to be a figure who provokes extremes of reactions in people and I probably typify that the most—I can't bear to listen to most of her songs but some songs I love. I like the intense Alanis—most of her stuff I find way too bland mainstream pop/rock for my tastes, like a Sheryl Crow clone, but some of her other songs, like the ubiquitous "You Oughta Know", and "All I Really Want" and "Thank U" I find strong and interesting. She's definitely a listen-before-you-buy—though of course if you listen to the radio you'll hear her. (Neile)
i really liked alanis morissette on the first few listens, but grew to despise her. (email@example.com)
Comments about live performance:
Amazing, phenomenal live performer. Any notion that you have about her being a studio-generated non-talent would disappear if you would see her live. The two concerts I have seen of hers have been transcendent experiences, and worth the price of admission just to see her dance (an awkward, jerky motion that makes you believe the music is actually taking over her entire body). Her vocals are remarkable live, and she gives fresh spins on older songs that cast them in a new light ("You Oughta Know" done soulful and soul). One complaint I had after the last concert was the predominance of Jagged Little Pill-material, instead of from the recent album (no performance of "That I Would Be Good"), but she still reached me in my nosebleed seats. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I saw a TV special featuring her, which showed a clip of her doing "You Oughta Know" live and I thought it was simply horrible. She basically just pranced around on the stage screaming her lungs out in a not so flattering fashion. I almost felt sorry for her. But the crowd of course was going bananas. Go figure I guess. (email@example.com)
I am *not* an Alanis fan by ANY stretch, but I have to say she really, really impressed me last night. She's got a top-notch band, and she puts on a really good, intense show. (She didn't caterwaul too much, either, which was a bonus. ;) I'd see her again for a cheap ticket. (9/99, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alanis was quite good too, though I only knew the songs that had lots of radio play, like "Hand in My Pocket" (her opener), "Uninvited" (her closer), "Thank U", and "Ironic" (her encores). She had a lot of energy and seemed to be having the time of her life, at one point just spinning around the stage. She played harmonica, flute, and guitar at different points. The background was also really cool with tapestries, videos, and lots of light changes. Kind of hard to describe. Anyway, we had a really good time. (9/99, JoAnn.Whetsell)
Recommended first album:
Jagged Little Pill
- As Alanis
- As Alanis Morissette
released as by Alanis
Hard to find—only released in Canada
Low priority, unless you like dance-pop
I picked Alanis up out of curiosity—I believe that even the most die-hard Morissette fan would be unable to recognize the vocals unless they knew what they were listening to. (email@example.com)
I bought Alanis out of curiosity (it was cheap). Dunno if I'd call it Debbie Gibson-ish—but it definitely sticks to the top-40-dance-pop formula. Maybe more like Taylor Dane. Not my cup-o-tea, in any case.... (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Had I known that Alanis Morissette sounds different (completely) than Alanis, I wouldn't have bought the Alanis albums. As such, these two were a complete loss. (email@example.com)
released as by Alanis
1992—MCA Records (Ghetto Records)
Tough to find, Maverick Records bought the rights to it, and don't want you to find it, as its style is very different from Jagged Little Pill and Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie
Low, unless you like dance-pop
Leslie David Howe
Her second album as a teen-dance queen. I haven't heard it, and don't plan on it. This one wasn't even a minor hit in its native Canada. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
1995—Warner Brothers (Maverick)
Love it or hate it, it's arguably the most influential album of the decade. Essential.
Alanis Morissette—vocals, harmonica
Glen Ballard—guitars, keyboards, programming
Matt Laug, Rob Ladd—drums
Basil Fung, Joel Shearer—guitar
I thought it sounded pretty pop-dance oriented, with a bit of an "alternative" slant to it. I actually liked her debut CD better, this one sounds like it will burn easily. It seems like she lacks range here somehow, although she does have good power and there are definitely some good hooks in the music. If you like the "You Oughta Know", you'd probably like the entire CD, at least for a while. (email@example.com)
At first I had trouble liking this album. People telling me that "If you like Tori Amos, you'll love Alanis Morissette" didn't help. But honestly, I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Three points:
* Her voice sounds like Gary Numan on a bad day
* How she ever did teeny-pop I can't imagine—she'd scare kids away!
* She's taken Ugly Vocal Mannerisms (as pioneered by Tori at early live shows) to new, ridiculous extremes.
Listening to Alanis is like being whapped about the head with a dance-remixed brick.... I strongly suspect that Madonna and her A&R gang at Maverick were looking for something to make up for them missing out on Hole. Alanis is the Courtney it's OK to like. Both annoy the hell out of me, but for different reasons.
But after several months I actually realised that I have to eat my words; I gave the album another chance, and to my astonishment, actually enjoyed it. I still think she has a touch of the Gary Numans about her, though.... (firstname.lastname@example.org)
what's with this, anyway? i know many ectophiles love this album, but its worth totally escapes me. boldly immature, it reminds me very much of the "you hurt me, girl" type songs my sister used to listen to so much when she was on her new kids on the block kick, in my opinion. (email@example.com)
I must rave about this one. I'd heard mixed reviews of the album, but in the state I was in at the time (ahem), it was not hard to conjure up a whim and purchase this album. It is absolutely excellent! Alanis Morissette's vocals and style seem quite insightful, and perhaps not just a little psychotic. An immediate hit...a lot of people accuse this album of being mature, while a lot of other people laud it as an extremely immature piece of work. this confuses me. anyway, i love the lyrics on this album—they're pretty direct, but they fit my "angry" persona very well—it's another of those good blends of music and lyrics. i find the music incredibly catchy and energetic...driving...and the overall effect of alanis' voice, lyrics and music i would describe as psychotic...well, it's hard to be more specific, but this album really works for me.
you know, this album is, with a few exceptions, tremendously angry and/or accusing. some might call it realism, but that all depends on your perspective. not that i necessarily disagree, but really, listening to it is kind of depressing. not that that's a bad thing. but when i heard the "hidden track" at the end, i could quite easily predict how the song would end. even though it *was*, up 'til that point, quite a positive-sounding song. she almost had me fooled, lulled into a false sense of security; i thought for half a second that the note would be *from* the man, i.e. he knew she was there and was leaving some loving note for her, but my original presupposition was right :P this sort of bugs me, and i'm not sure what i think of it. i would have liked the song to end positively, for a change, and was disappointed when it didn't and my first reaction was confirmed, but, on the other hand, if it *had* ended positively, it really wouldn't have rung true, what with the rest of the album. and i did admire the way she managed to convince me, for however short a moment. actually i very much like the lyrics overall, but the pessimism can get a bit oppressive after a while.
that said, i think this is one of the better albums i have heard in a long time. alanis morissette's wonderfully psychotic, jarring voice combines with the also wonderfully psychotic and nerve-jangling instrumentation to produce...well, a wonderfully psychotic whole. that's my word for this album :) and although her lyrics are generally pretty pessimistic, they are presented with such forceful wit and exactitude that you can't help buying it. most of this album gets right into my brain and quite frankly mucks it up a bit, leaving me feeling pretty twisted. in my opinion, it's pure, jagged genius. in a word: whoa. oh, wait a minute...make that "in a word: psychotic!"
(in answer to firstname.lastname@example.org) i think one of your problems with this album is that you're focusing on one or two of the most "obvious" songs. the ones that stick out, the ones that were most popular. i find that all (or almost all) of the songs *sound* angry and psychotic (my choice of word, not gleaned from any other source *grin*), but they really aren't all "you hurt me, girl" type songs as you said. and i'd certainly never compare alanis' "you hurt me" songs to the new kids on the schlock, but...well. let me run through the songs
1. "all i really want": this song on the surface seems to be an angry, accusing song. and it is. but when you actually look at what's being said, although it *is* being said to a supposed second person, "you", it is a very internal song, a personal journey. i identify with this song very much actually. maybe it's just me, but i suspect that this same interpretation was in alanis' mind when she wrote it. lines like "i don't want to dissect everything today / i don't mean to pick you apart you see / but i can't help it" really strike a strong chord with me; i've gone through days and weeks and even months where i analyse and scrutinise and criticise *every little thing* i do or say or think, and these lines jangle around in my head in resonance with memories of this. "and all i really want is some patience / a way to calm the angry voice / and all i really want is deliverance"—i empathise with this all too well. she also talks about various ways she thinks might work in dealing with this; spirituality, "a soul mate"...but the mind that criticises is always too critical to accept these sorts of solutions.
2. "you oughta know": ok, this is definitely a "you hurt me and i hate you" song, but even so, i find it works very well for me. what some people see as alanis' "bold immaturity" i see as a refreshing frankness; this is a rage song, and she's not holding back. someone mentioned the difference between alanis and tori amos with anger songs, tori lets it out in a roundabout, subtle way, and alanis just pounds it out blatantly. well, i like both approaches, and i don't think the second is invalid just because it isn't subtle. i've never been hurt in the way described here, and yet i resonate with it well. something's working. and even amongst this directness she finds room for some subtlety and wit. one thing that's recently struck me is that coupled with the idea that the singer has been "used", particularly sexually, is the accusation that "the love that you gave that we made wasn't able to make it enough for you to be open wide" emotionally, but i find the "open wide" echoes the entire sexuality theme in a way that screams to be thought about. kind of punnish too. as with many such things, who knows if it was intentional? regardless, it is there.
3. "perfect": this song sort of pretends to be subtle, even though it isn't. it is a "hurt" song in a way, but a very different one, dealing with the influence of a parent's way of thinking on their child. i find her voice on this track especially effective. although the song seems perhaps a bit too obvious at first glance (er, listen), it makes me think, and the awful thing is that all too often this is true, this *is* the subcurrent in a parent-child relationship. i've seen it.
4. "hand in my pocket": how can you say this song fits what you said about the album? i don't have much to say about it...it's a collection of often nonsensical-seeming contrasts, and i don't really understand the message, but the feeling it conveys is a positive one, the idea that things may be bad but still they're good; hard to explain but i know the feeling.
5. "right through you": another externally angry "you hurt me" song (the second obvious one so far, unless you count "perfect", but i really don't think you can say *that's* a kids on the block type of hurt song...neither, for that matter, is this one). this one is a pretty obvious "it's a male-dominated society, and a lot of the men in it are shitheads" theme. again, unsubtle, but this one rings very true. and there's a wit here that really works for me. in the other songs too, but it surfaces here...like the idea of this man scanning the credits (of her life) for his name and wondering why it's not there. interesting metaphor, if, again, not exactly subtle.
6. "forgiven": i really don't have a grasp on this song yet. actually, it (especially the opening bit) really reminds me of one of tori amos' styles. but it's definitely not a "you hurt me, i hate you" song.
7. "you learn": this is an absolutely lovely song! the basic message is simple: "experience life"...but the presentation is, i think, just wonderful. the music is a lot of it, and the sort of "i recommend (insert cliché here)" format really evokes something for me. she doesn't say "experience things", she says "i recommend getting your heart trampled on to anyone" (experience love and loss), "i recommend walking around naked in your living room" (experience self-realisation, not depending on others' external perception?), etc. then the images of using up your time in life..."live life to the lees", if i may quote whoozis: "swallow it down", "hold it up", "wear it out", "melt it down". and finally the "you ____ you learn" chorus. you do anything, you learn. i love this song.
8. "head over feet": well, here's an out and out love song. no one hurt anyone here. even so, alanis manages to bring her "accusational" style to the song, which i really like; i find it an interesting and refreshing change from the usual fawning or stars-in-the-eyes approach. "you've already won me over in spite of me", "you treat me like i'm a princess / i'm not used to liking that", "i had no choice but to hear you / you stated your case time and again / i thought about it", and the absolutely wonderful mixed image "your love is thick and it swallowed me whole". basically, i couldn't help loving you, and it's all your fault.
9. "mary jane": innocence in the polluted shell of a woman living in the dreck of our society. a good theme, well presented
10. "ironic": suffice to say it's another of those negative-positive songs i love so much. instances of negative irony in the verses (quite originally and wittily done, in my opinion), and then the generalised chorus. i've experienced this...hasn't everyone? just when everything's great something bad happens...but the reverse is also true. it keeps you on your toes. and i love this sudden turnaround; after all the negativity of the verses and of the first half of the chorus you aren't expecting it and then *wham*, something positive. exactly like it happens in life!
11. "not the doctor": hmm. something of a "you hurt me", but a weird one. more like a "this is how you perceive me, but i don't like it". again, i'll be brief and leave it at that. i just *love* the line "i don't want to be your mother / i didn't carry you in my womb for nine months" :) typically direct, but wherever have you heard anything phrased quite like that before? she manages to be unsubtle in really neat ways :)
12. "wake up": a great song
the bonus track: ok, it's a "you hurt me". but it's a great twist :) she *almost* had me fooled right up to the end, even *after* listening to songs like "you oughta know" and "right through you". (damon)
Hey, she's got a couple of okay songs, but what's all the hype about? I bought Jagged Little Pill for my sister (since she really likes it) and found it—let's say, lacking. Like I said, a couple of OK songs, but the rest fall flat. (Matt.Bittner)
I *like* the Jagged Little Pill cd, but even *she* must be tired of "You Oughta Know" by now. I find the rest of Jagged Little Pill to be pleasant. A good listen in the car, and "Perfect" is a pithy statement that works for me. Not a captive of the cd player, granted. (email@example.com)
After obsessing on the "You Oughta Know" single for a couple of days on a CMJ sampler, I happened upon a used copy of the full-length disc. All I can say is that I'm glad I didn't pay full price. Though there are a couple of good songs—two that are almost as strong as "You Oughta Know," which is already wearing out its welcome on the radio in my head—it's mostly pretty weak songwriting. The two good songs are also very, very like "You Oughta Know" (the first cut and the final a cappella "hidden" one). Anyway, this is definitely a check-it-out-before-you-commit disc.... Though I liked those three songs a lot, I hated/detested/could not bear to have the rest of the album on my player. I found the other songs very Sheryl Crow-sounding, and that's a pop sound I just don't like, besides being horribly annoyed by "Hand in Pocket" and particularly the "Ironic" lyrics. (Neile)
I can see how some people wouldn't like her voice, but I love it. And the words are amazing. There were one or two songs that almost appear to have been written especially for me. I *really* like this album. One strange thing—in the song "Head Over Feet", Alanis sounds very much like Carly Simon when she sings the chorus. Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that? (CSARIS@upe.ac.za)
Yes, I do like this album, though I already know that it'll have a quite short life. Its anger just works for me, though I really understand that there are people here who hate it. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
My second-favourite album of '95 is Jagged Little Pill. Sorry to whom this may offend but I love its unsubtlety and frankness. In my opinion this 'just works'! (email@example.com)
Jagged Little Pill is a BRILLIANT debut album for the best sort of new artist of the year. There's been much arguing over Alanis's integrity, and talent, but whatever. This is an incredible album, full of gritty reality, sweet romance and bitter pain, sung by the Big Voice From Hell. :) So swallow it down—what a Jagged Little Pill. It feels so good swimming in your stomach. Favorite Track: "You Oughta Know" (of course!). (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jagged Little Pill seems to evoke either a positive or negative reaction. Mine was positive. I thought I'd get tired of it when I bought it but I haven't yet. (email@example.com)
And this from someone who finds himself not wanting to like Alanis Morissette, but must admit "You Oughta Know" is an awfully catchy tune, and the rest of the album is remarkably solid. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
She seems to be a bit controversial, but I think this is a fantastic CD. The bitter hate/love songs, the original voice, and the music that simply rocks. I can hardly believe she's 21. Jagged Little Pill, to me, seems to project a maturity that's way beyond her years.... (email@example.com)
I still don't really like her voice, but most of the tracks on this album are very good ("Perfect", "Hand in my pocket"). (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I must agree that after hearing the negative reports of it being drivel and such (primarily on Usenet), I was pleasantly surprised when my copy arrived! only had a listen once, but I thought the lyric content was in general quite deeper than I'd have thought given the song given the most airplay (which I love for its emphaticness, and cleverness, rather than some esoteric notion of "deepness"). Some of the local dj's have been characterizing her music as "psycho music", which I think misses the point...this reaction she has in "You Oughta Know" is simply a natural result of the situation, and the sooner people (both male and female, dumper and dumpee) accept this, the better—be responsible, empathetic, and true to yourself! (email@example.com)
"You Oughta Know" seems to be a very powerful song, and connect to very many people and emotions, hence its popularity. I always thought that it was maybe just because it expresses what so many might *want* to say, but it isn't "correct"...but I really think it goes further. It really annoys me when Top-40-Alt-Tern-Nut-ive or Modern Rock station DJs just try to dismiss her as "psycho music" and laugh her off...the guys especially seem to do this, whereas the (few) female DJs just play her music without much comment one way or another (well, it goes to reason, not wanting to align themselves too much with the "psycho bitch" of modern rock =8^). Sometimes I detect some of the djs are just a little uncomfortable about the song...perhaps they feel some of that juju themselves :)...I have her CD, and some of it is pretty deep in a no-nonsense, straightforward sort of way. Amazing. She doesn't mince words, but there is some wisdom there beyond her years. (Jessica Spurling)
My question is...why is everyone so embarrassed to admit they like her??? Jagged Little Pill was brilliant. Is it that no one wants to say that about a cd that was so commercially successful? Like it's cool to like someone who only sold 10 cds. Makes you much more in tune with what's hip??? No apologies here...Jagged Little Pill was amazing in its lyrics and music. You can argue all you want about her voice—I like it. (FAMarcus@aol.com)
Next, let me say that I'm one of those folks who like Jagged Little Pill. It was one of those "theme" albums I suspect we all have now and then for some part of our lives. I had Jagged Little Pill cranked up on the car stereo every morning as I drove in to a job I had come to loathe. Anger was the theme on the stereo and in my life. I continued to listen to the album after I left the job and still liked it—it had a lot of energy, and even a bit of humor and dark wit. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Immature and with atrocious lyrics, though admittedly some promise in melodies and hooks. (email@example.com)
"Hand in My Pocket" annoyed the hell out of me when it came out. When a songwriter sings that "And the other one's givin' a high-five" line with that degree of nasality, and when an artist tries to incorporate second-rate harmonica playing into rock/funk arrangements, you run into problems. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Actually, this album, although I've never listened to it in its entirety, has grown on me over time. When an artist is so overplayed and you just get inundated with them, it's really easy to hate them and not really listen to the songs. So when I heard them a lot less, I began to actually like some of them. Although I don't think I'll ever like "You Oughta Know". (JoAnn Whetsell)
1998—Warner Brothers (Maverick)
Alanis Morissette—vocals, harmonica, flute, piano
Glen Ballard—guitar, piano, synthesizer, programming
Nick Lashley, Joel Shearer—guitar
Benmont Tench—organ, chamberlin
Gary Novak—drums, percussion
Shad T. Scott, Christopher Fogel—programming
Glen Ballard and Alanis Morissette
I think this is a brilliant work, perhaps the best CD released in 1998. It's head and shoulders above Jagged Little Pill, an album I enjoy but doesn't have the power that this one does. She matured a lot, and the music incorporates a lot of different elements than her debut had—flute, for example. It's all very beautiful and ethereal. I like the songwriting even more. Alanis shuns all convention and writes in very stream-of-consciousness way that makes her lyrics read ridiculously but sound brilliant when sung by her. My favorite song is the big ballad "That I Would Be Good," which is stone beautiful. But other songs—"Can't Not", "Baba", "Joining You", "Unsent"—are as good as you're ever going to hear in this genre. The CD is also 17 tracks or so, which I love...you're definitely getting your money's worth. Love it. Absolutely brilliant. I love her stream-of-consciousness writing, the musical backdrops. Everything. Her vocals are superb as well. (email@example.com)
She shows obvious growth and maturity with Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. Those expecting another Jagged Little Pill are in for a surprise, I think. Things I like about this CD:
—she sings a lot more than screams. :) Different from Jagged Little Pill in that respect
—the songs are deeper, more introspective, more honest, more thoughtful, and more interesting
lots of new, experimental things tried on this CD in terms of the music and writing. for example:
*i hear elements of garbage and madonna and several other artists in the music
*her writing is very stream-of-conscious on this cd and at times she abandons the traditional verse-chorus thing; some songs don't even have a real chorus
the songs "can't not," "that I would be good," and "one"
more use of instruments like the piano and flute (and alanis plays both)
Things I dislike about this CD:
—there's 17 tracks. that's good and bad. it's bad because it's going to take me a long time to get into the *whole* cd. there are some songs that are immediately catchy and interesting, and some that i might not ever like...
her voice gets a bit annoying after, say, track 12...
the religion/spirituality thing is sort of cool and annoying at the same time.
I have listened to it a few times, and am listening to it now, and I do like it, though I find that I've moved on and enjoy other artists like Emm Gryner way more, but this is still a solid piece of work.... The writing is interesting on it, though. It's worth checking out, I think, if you like stuff like this, but I think it might be a little bit too much for some Ecto-ears. I'm not sure. (Songbird22@aol.com)
I have to echo others' comments about Alanis' new CD. It's really wonderful and a must for ectophiles. She has really come a long way since Jagged Little Pill. (MRL220@aol.com)
I was really looking forward to this new album. I bought it the day it was released. But, here's a three word impression: I hate it. Not dislike. Hate. I've listened to it twice, got only half way through it a third time, and it's playing now in the background for the fourth time. I probably won't use the disk for a coaster, but it'll go into the bottom of the pile.
The reason, for me, that it's passable as background music, is that the music isn't bad. It is more complex and varied than Jagged Little Pill. There are a range of styles, from wall-o-sound like guitar to folky plucked acoustic. The music is much more sophisticated than Jagged Little Pill.
Unfortunately, it is only the music that is sophisticated. The lyrics are an unrelenting wasteland of bald statement and painfully earnest sincerity. And it's all the kind of thing that makes me want to scream that old creative writing slogan at the stereo: "SHOW—DON'T TELL!" There is almost nothing but "telling" on the album, transcriptions of experience untransmuted by imagination. Gone is the energy of anger and the occasional dark humor.
A newspaper article mentioned that she had done a lot of therapy between albums. Much of the album sounds like thera-speak. And it's a shame, because even therapy can be turned into an interesting song. Dar Williams's "What Do You Hear in These Sounds," shows what a little wit and imagination can do with similar material.
I was going to add a bit here about how I think Alanis has mistaken sincerity for authenticity (á la Louise Glück's essay, "Against Sincerity"), but this is already an embarrassingly long rant. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
i liked jagged little pill better but not by much. that first cd was a hard one to top and that was the problem. i feel supposed former infatuation junkie is still better than 95% of all the cds released in '98. (FAMarcus@aol.com)
the other day i heard "You Oughta Know" for the first in oh such long a time and it reminded me of everything i liked about Jagged Little Pill, that little bag of diamonds in the rough, and realized to me why Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie really needed to be a Brian Eno album, not that i'd wish it on him, parenthetically or hypothetically, and called instead "Music for Self-Therapy". toss the 'zac, Alanis, quit therappe and lose the self-reflective angst, give in to the Dark Side of Something and revel in petty, childish pissedness at the world. it's the only damn thing you do well but damn my sweetie, you do do it well! (email@example.com)
I love the new Alanis record too, which I did not expect at all! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I actually rather liked it. Only listened to about half. My god—17 songs! I had never even thought about listening to it before. When I saw it in stores, I thought the cover art was so obnoxiously dumb, but then listening to the album, it makes sense...all this psychological chaos and anger. So the songs are extremely psychological/psychoanalytical, and the lyrics can be awkward and kind of stumbling, but I like it. The music is very good. And I like her voice better than on the first album. (JoAnn Whetsell)
1999—Maverick Records—9 47589-2
Recommended for fans
Alanis Morissette—vocals, guitar, harmonica, flute
Deron Johnson—keyboards, background vocals on "King of Pain"
Gary Novak—drums and percussion
David Campbell—viola, musical arrangements
Suzie Katayama—cello, string arrangement for "You Oughta Know"
Stripped down and often slowed down, Unplugged shows that Alanis is a better and more thoughtful songwriter than she's often given credit for being. The best song in this regard is "I Was Hoping" which becomes more serious here than on Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. Songs such as "You Learn" from her first album are much better than their studio versions. There are also 3 songs not on her other albums, a cover of "King of Pain" by The Police, and a great version of her City of Angels soundtrack hit, "Uninvited." (JoAnn Whetsell)
2002—Maverick Recording Company—9 47988-2
Alanis Morissette—guitars, keyboards, vocals
Gary Novak—drums, percussion
Tim Thorney—guitar, bass
Flea—bass on "Narcissus"
Meshell Ndegeocello—bass on "So Unsexy" and "You Owe Me Nothing In Return"
Eric Avery—bass on "Precious Illusions"
Dean Deleo—guitar on "Precious Illusions" and "21 Things I Want In a Lover"
Chris Bruce—bass on "Hands Clean"
Richard Causon—piano on "That Particular Time"
This is more of a pure pop/rock album than Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie with similar psychoanalytical songwriting and great hooks but without the forays into non-Western musical styles. It's something of a middle ground between her first two albums. The singles are pretty representative of the album as a whole, so if you like those, you'll probably like the album. As for me, I didn't care for her first album, liked the second quite a bit, and love this. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Recommended for fans
Alanis Morissette—guitars, keyboards, vocals
Tim Thorney—guitars and bass
Meshell Ndegeocello—bass (2)
Eric Avery—bass (1)
Dean DeLeo—guitar (1, 6)
Zac Rae—keyboards (4)
Richard Carson—piano (7)
Suzie Katayama—conductor/arranger (7)
Charlie Bisharat—violin (7)
Larry Corbett and Rudy Stein—cello (7)
A nice collection of material that didn't make it onto Under Rug Swept. Most of the songs are quite good and several are more in the rock vein of Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie than they are like Under Rug Swept's pop. My favorite is "Purgatorying" with its East Indian sounds.
The accompanying DVD is mostly a treat. Concert footage from numerous shows is interwoven with scenes backstage, on the road, and in the recording studio which show a lot of personality (goofy) and playfulness. However, on some songs the sound is distorted (hard to describe, but it sort of goes in and out from more clear to distant and muffled). I think this is supposed to give us a sense of the singer's experience or something like that, but it's really hard to listen to the songs that way. I do like the way footage from multiple concerts are used for the songs and how you get an insider's view of life on the road and in the band. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Alanis Morissette-vocals, keyboards (7)
David Levita—electric guitar, acoustic guitar
John Shanks—electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, dulcimer, keyboards, programming
Jason Orme—electric guitar
Joel Shearer—electric guitar, bouzouki, guitar, acoustic guitar
Zac Rae—keyboards, piano, vibes
Tim Thorney—bass, electric guitar, keyboards, additional production
Mark Valentine—additional engineering
Scott Gordon—programming, drum programming (8)
Blair Sinta—programming except "Everything
Alanis Morissette and John Shanks
On her fourth studio album, Alanis proves herself adept once again at writing catchy songs with pop hooks and confessional lyrics. She says the things so many of us feel but never say.
The critics are touting this album as a lighter, happier Alanis. I was a bit worried about that. What would be the point of listening to an Alanis who didn't need therapy? She hasn't lost her angst, her anger, or her sarcasm, however, and the music has a bit of a harder, more rock edge than on her last album. It's true she does display more of a positive side than usual, but mostly just on 4 songs. The first single, "Everything," is about the joys of having someone in your life who loves all of you, the good and the bad. She's also positive on "This Grudge" (about giving it up) and on "Bees of My Knees," a joyous love song which I find surprisingly catchy even though on principle I feel I should dislike a song built on such a silly chorus. The sitar works surprisingly well on it also. "Out Is Through" is about making a relationship work. "Doth I Protest Too Much," in which she claims not to be angry and depressed, could be considered positive if you take it at face value, but I think she's being sarcastic, as if she's trying to convince herself or someone else she's happier than she is. Still, it's upbeat, and one of my favorite tracks, along with "Spineless," another sarcastic song.
Bottom line: While Alanis definitely still needs therapy, So-Called Chaos shows that some of that therapy has begun to pay off. There's not much ectoish here, but there's enough fun and bitterness to satisfy fans. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Recommended for fans
Alanis Morissette—vocals, harmonica
David Levita—guitars, marxophone, perapaloshka, mandolin
Blair Sinta—drums, percussion, maraca, cajon
Zac Rae—pianoforte, keyboards, organ, pump organ
Glen Ballard—string arrangement
Suzie Katayama—string arrangement, conducting
Ralph Morrison—violin I
Sara Parkins—violin II
I never got into the original Jagged Little Pill, but since I like Alanis' later work, I decided to try this 10-year anniversary acoustic edition. It doesn't annoy me the way the original album did, but it doesn't really do anything positive for me either. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Recommended for fans
A retrospective of the first 10 years of Alanis Morissette's career, including songs from all of her albums, soundtrack work, and a cover of Seal's "Crazy," the album's lone new offering. It's an okay introduction for new people but probably more meant for major fans. Personally, having all of her albums from Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie on, I don't feel that this collection really adds much. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Andy Page—acoustic, electric, and bass guitars, e-bow, prepared guitar, guitar, synthesizer programming, drum programming, synth bass, synthesizer, sound design, spectral processing
Guy Sigsworth—table programming, drum programming, bass synth, granulated cello, keyboards, 8-bit synthesizer, organ, piano, electric piano, prepared piano, piano effects, tubular bell, bass harmonics, acoustring, synthesizer, booms, ghost choirs, triangles, celesta, strings, QY20, fake e-bow, sound design, bass backing vocal, clavichord snare, string arrangements on tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 7
Sean McGhee—synthesizer programming, backing vocals
Peter Freeman—bass guitar
Fiora Cutler—string arrangements on tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 7
Suzie Katayama—string conducting on tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 7
The new Alanis Morissette is her most vital, immediate and involving since Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie.
I'd given up hope of ever hearing her sound this inspired ever again. She's embracing her eccentricity and her muse instead of churning out yet another commercial yawnfest with paint-by-numbers production.
Very happy. (email@example.com)
I agree, 100%. I've not been fond of much since Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, but this new one is a breath of fresh air. It's fantastic! This is a monumental, important release. There's finally some passion back in her music! The lyrics are personal, raw, reflective—she's finally come back to her roots. The songs themselves are great—full of energy, anger, and at times, joy. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I'm definitely loving the album. I agree it's probably her best since Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. I usually found a couple songs on each of the other albums I liked but they weren't nearly as strong as a set.
Right now my favorites are probably "Giggling for No Reason," "Tapes," and "Underneath" in that order. (email@example.com)
Alanis Morissette—all vocals
Victor Indrizzo—drums (1, 2, 4-9, 12); percussion (1-12)
Matt Chamberlain—drums (3, 10, 11)
David Levita—electric guitars (1-12)
Lyle Workman—electric guitars (1, 2, 7, 8)
Tim Pierce—electric guitars (5, 11); acoustic guitars (3, 10)
Chris Elms—electric guitars (1, 2, 4, 7); acoustic guitar (10); Pro Tools editing and additional programming (2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 12)
Mike Daly—acoustic guitars (3, 10)
Sean Hurley—bass (1, 2, 4-8, 12)
Paul Bushnell—bass (3, 10, 11)
Zac Rae—keys (12)
Guy Sigsworth—keys (1-10, 12); drum programming (2, 4, 8)
Jeff Babko—keys (1, 6, 11)
Joe Chiccarelli—keys (6, 11); drum programming (5, 6, 11)
Lili Haydn—violin (8)
David Campbell—woodwind arrangement (9)
Joe Chiccarelli (1–12); Guy Sigsworth (1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9)
Far too much of this album is not very interesting. There are some good songs (the first single "Guardian," "Lens," and "Receive"), but for the most part even they aren't particularly original. The best track is definitely the rocking "Numb" with fantastic violin work by Lili Haydn. (JoAnn Whetsell)
A solid record, way better than So-Called Chaos but way, way worse than Flavors of Entanglement or Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alanis has released several DVDs:
Alanis also appears in the 1998 Free Tibet: The Motion Picture DVD. In addition, she has numerous acting credits.
- Jagged Little Pill, Live (1997)
- Music in High Places: Alanis Morissette Live in the Navajo Nation (2002)
- VH1 Storytellers (2005)
Her recordings appear on many compilations. Songs not on her studio albums include:
Strung Out on Jagged Little Pill: The String Quartet Tribute to Alanis Morissette was released in 2000.
- a live version of "Wake Up" on the Tibetan Freedom Concert album (1997)
- "Uninvited" on the City of Angels soundtrack (1998, available on The Collection)
- vocal contributions on 4 tracks on The Prayer Cycle (1999, "Mercy" available on The Collection)
- "Still" on the Dogma soundtrack (1999, available on The Collection)
- a live version of "So Pure" on Woodstock 99 Vol. 2: Blue Album (2000)
- "Offer" on Voices of Hope (2002)
- "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)" on the De-Lovely soundtrack (2004, available on The Collection)
- "Wunderkind" on the Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the
Wardrobe soundtrack (2005)
- live versions of "All I Really Want" and "Can't Not" on The Bridge School Concerts, Vol. 3 (2007)
- "Versions of Violence" (recorded in dressing room in Cologne, Germany) on Songs for Tibet: The Art of Peace (2008)
- "I Remain" on the Prince of Persia soundtrack (2008)
- a live version of "Citizen of the Planet" on Live From the Artists Den: Season 1 (Part II) (2009)
Thanks to Mark Miazga and JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.