12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Despite expectations, this is excellent,
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This review is from: havoc and bright lights (Audio CD)
Following the beautiful 'Flavours of Entanglement', I had serious doubts about this new album from Alanis when I heard that Guy Sigsworth's original production had been partially ditched in favour of a more 'live' sound from new producer Joe Chiccarelli. It was Guy's fantastic arrangements that brought Alanis' recent music to new heights, placing her intricate and unique lyrics in a new and exciting soundscape.
Those concerns are not fully resolved. For example, the track 'Magical Child' can be easily compared and contrasted. The original Guy Sigsworth production is available on the version previously released (and available on YouTube) and is certainly a more electronic, atmospheric but subtle track that builds and builds. Joe's production on the album version feels rather watered down, too smooth and glossy. Some of the added 'real' instruments sound dated in a jazzy 80s kind of way.
However, when this album is heard in full there is no doubt that it is an excellent set of songs. Since I generally prefer Alanis' gentler tracks, I am spoilt for choice - with 'Til You', 'Havoc', 'Win and Win' and 'Empathy' being particular favourites. However, the first single 'Guardian' and the immediately appealing 'Woman Down' show that she is still willing to make the tougher, more outspoken choices at times. Joe's production is generally sympathetic to the melody, not (as feared) too wrapped up in sounding 'authentic' and does not overwhelm the songs. It's clear that much of Guy's original programming remains (up to 50% on many of the tracks, according to interviews with Joe).
The packaging of the album is terrific (with photography that really speak to where Alanis is in her life) and it makes a nice change to have the lyrics printed out in full and in a typeface that can be easily read.
So despite the behind-the-scenes production issues, this is another very strong album from Alanis that is at times touching and clearly heartfelt throughout.