Reviews for the album Fetch The Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple sound like they’re written for a blockbuster film. The Guardian exclaims her new music is “a sudden glorious eruption.” Pitchfork shouts “an unyielding masterpiece!” The Boston Globe gushes it is “a thrill ride.” And NME asserts it to be “a visceral listening experience.” In the midst of a pandemic, Apple quietly released an album for the benefit of those in self-isolation while also avoiding stressful press interviews. Fetch The Bolt Cutters provides a fresh sound to our tired ears of 2020. Apple captures parts of humanity that often are ignored by popular culture and weaves a fervent hope for freedom through it all.
What immediately jumps out on the album is its unique musicality. Apple’s voice takes center stage with expertly crafted rawness, gentleness, ugliness, and beauty. Rhythm pulses through each song with unusual percussive sounds made with items found around her house. Fiona Apple engineered most of the recording herself using the free software Garageband. She layers sound after sound until the song is a tapestry of rhythm and voice. Fetch The Bolt Cutters will have the listener curious on the first, tenth, and hundredth listen.
Lyrically, Apple unpacks parts of the human experience that are often ignored in popular culture. The song “Shameika” rewinds to Fiona Apple’s middle school experience, repeating words of a classmate that Fiona Apple remembers clearly decades later. “Rack of His” and “Newspapers” consider the confusing relationships between women who are the ex-girlfriends of the same guy.
Ultimately, Apple offers listeners hope for freedom. She is often caricatured as a sad, eccentric artist capable of only exploring pain and sadness. Ironically, in this time of fear and uncertainty, she is one of the few artists offering authentic encouragement. Her responses to suffering are not shallow or simplistic. As Christians, we can learn a lot from Apple’s ability to see the world in a clear way and empathize with those around her. We can be inspired by her push for excellence without being seduced by greed. Her boundary-pushing musicality mesmerizes listeners and music critics alike. In her 25-year recording career, she could easily have released more than five albums, but she has long realized what many of us are just realizing now. Slowing down and taking her time allows the work to last in deeply meaningful ways. (Epic)