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Friday, 1 March, 2002, 16:49 GMT
Alanis goes into the comfort zone
Cover of single Hands Clean
Morissette: Seems to have mellowed
By BBC News Online's Stuart O'Brien

The transition from Jagged Little Pill to Supposed Infatuation Junkie went from the acerbic, wickedly entertaining, "me" album, to "sorry, I was a bit of a bitch before, wasn't I?"

Under Rug Swept, three years in the making, moves onto even mellower ground. The mocking tone is there, but a lot softer, as in Narcissus; the focused introspection is here too, in So Unsexy and Precious Illusions.

All staple Alanis stuff, but I can't help thinking she has lost a little of her edge. The answer could be her wider political involvement (she was awarded a Global Tolerance Award and she has been performing in benefit concerts for world hunger and poverty charities).

Indeed tolerance seems to be at the root of the problem; she has become content!

Album cover
Morissette produced the album

Musically, Under Rug Swept picks up from Junkie - kicking off with the big slabs of guitar on 21 Things I Want In A Lover. There is no shortage of gutsy thumping base and there is a similar blend of acute observation and love songs.

Next transition is the fact that this is all her own work, produced by Alanis herself and Glen Ballard nowhere to be seen.

Alanis breaks new ground in trying the male point of view. A Man highlights some of the responsibilities New Man has to shoulder "we don't fare well with endless reprimands" - how true.

She also seems to have metamorphosed from the potential axe murderer of You Oughta know into absolutely brilliant girlfriend material, first of all spelling out her preferences in 21 things (tick the boxes) and then offering a guilt-free ride in You Owe Me Nothing In Return.

It's a hit

The new single, Hands Clean, is a jolly number about the (autobiographical?) story of a sexual relationship "this supposed crime" with strong hints of harassment: "If you weren't so wise beyond your years/I would have been able to control myself."

It's a jangly, soft rock track with a her trademark lilting, vulnerable vocal and, lyrically, is most like the old stuff. It deserves to be a hit.

Utopia contains the line "we'd all coast down into safety nets" and, in the end, this album seems to be a work from the comfort zone.

For me, Morissette is most creative, when she has something, or someone, to bite down on.

Of course, Morissette's comfort zone is way beyond most, and her fans will, I'm sure be satisfied, but I look forward once again to seeing her stretched.

Under Rug Swept is out on 4 March on the Marverick label

See also:

06 Mar 02 | Reviews
Alanis Morissette: Your views
16 May 00 | Entertainment
Morrissette's dotcom million
22 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Morissette sells MP3 shares
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