Such Pretty Forks In The Road is the first album from Alanis Morissette in nearly eight years, following 2012’s havoc and bright lights. In this time the world has delved deeper into havoc, but Morissette’s influence remains as bright as ever.
Her debut Jagged Little Pill remains the go-to album for a whole generation of feminists and women, who before then had never had an artist sing so openly about the struggles and frustrations of womanhood in a language quite so direct. It is hard to believe that seminal debut was over 25 years ago.
The Canadian song writer is now 46-years-old but continues to write with that same vulnerability that was at the heart of her debut. This is obvious from the get-go as ‘Smiling’ opens Such Pretty Forks In The Road. The single is oxymoronically one of the most painful tracks from the album, which agonisingly details the collision course of impacting rock bottom. The track is not about giving up however, but like much of the album, it is about forging ahead. “I keep on smiling, Keep moving, Can’t stand still,” she sings as she looks towards the “pretty forks in the road”.
‘Ablaze’ is a beautiful heartfelt tribute to her children, promising to do all she can to empower them and enable them to fulfil their dreams, and explore their potential. ‘Diagnosis’, is an open letter about her experiences with postpartum depression, and struggling to connect. “Everyone around me is trying to help as much as they can, but I’m alone in this meltdown of nervousness,” she sings.
‘Reasons I Drink’ kicks up at notch sonically but details the damage of addiction and the torture of self medication as well as seeking comfort in the darkness of substance abuse. Each track tends to be hyper descriptive of personal struggles, and will connect better with those most similar to Morissette demographically.
In the album’s finale, ‘Pedestal’, Morissette lays bare that she is as needy of love, empowerment, and reassurance, as anyone else, over grand orchestral production. Laying bare her insecurities as a human being, Morissette continues to prove why she is a generation’s permanent feminist icon.
“This record chronicles my journey of the last few years. Whether it was the current state of the feminist movement, post partum challenges, motherhood, mental health, marriage, spirituality, exploitation, and the challenges of shame, among other narratives…. Perhaps the most vulnerable I have ever been in song,” Morissette explained about the album.
Despite discussing the pain, the fear, and the challenges of womanhood in 2020, Morissette is never nihilistic on Such Pretty Forks In The Road. She makes a point of highlighting the importance of looking ahead rather above to others or behind to the past, a lesson she cements in the outro to ‘Pedestal’. “As this pedestal crashes down. Crashes me to the ground. I hope you enjoyed the ride, who wouldn’t?”