With Jagged Little Pill, Alanis got blasted into the stratosphere. The world was hers. If she’d wanted to be snorting coke off the bellies of beluga whales, I’m sure someone in her employ would have made that happen.
But what really happened to Alanis when fame hit hard? After the shit really got real and expectations were so high for the follow-up? She made a record even better than Jagged Little Pill.
Look at the cover. She’s smiling, and the text is a reference to the eight precepts of Buddhism. That’s all well and good, but when one of them is “Please refrain from… playing music, singing,” well, one wonders why that is on the cover of a music album. Ah well. Instead of letting the fame sweep her away into unreality, she went inside, deeper, and came back stronger and more gracious.
Her songs are still insanely catchy pages ripped out of her diary. Her voice has not changed, and she’s now even tackling playing the flute (poorly), but to the same effect the harmonica on Jagged had. It’s just bad enough to be good. The album had five singles: Thank U, Joining You, Unsent, So Pure, and That I Would Be Good, all of which are excellent. And there are so many other great songs here, besides.
These days, when I wanna play Alanis, this is the album for which I’ll reach first. I love it. It’s searching, it’s open, it’s clear-eyed. It’s the older, calmer sister of Jagged.