Fiona Apple rose to notoriaty with her 1996 debut album "Tidal" (released when she was all of 19 years old), and then took 3 1/2 years to release her second album in November, 1999. It was well worth the wait, and the album sounds as good now as it then, if not better.
"When the Pawn" (10 tracks, 42 min.) delivers on the promise of "Tidal" and then some! From the excellent opener "On the Pound", Fiona delivers one standout track after another, and shows how much her songwriting has matured from "Tidal". Although her music is very different from Tori Amos, spiritually they are both on the same page. I can't help but notice, though, that Matt Chamberlain, drummer and side-kick for Tori's albums, drums on most tracks here too. If one has to pick out standout tracks in the album (there are no weak tracks truly), I will pick the angry "Limp", the enthralling "Fast As You Can", and the pensive "The Way Things Are".
One thing that stands out is how much Fiona's lyrics have improved from her debut album. This despite the ridiculous album's full title (which is a 90 word poet). It's been more than 4 years since "When the Pawn" was released, but supposedly a new album is in the works for later this year. "When the Pawn" was released in late 99 and I called it one of the best of 2000 (see my annual "best of" lists) simply because I felt its impact wasn't felt until then. It still resonates with me now as it did then. Just magnificent!