Wed Sep 24 2008
Photograph: FRANK OCKENFELS III
Radio City Music Hall; Fri 26
Being rock’s biggest-selling female artist certainly breeds long-term resentment in the peanut gallery, doesn’t it? Well over a decade after releasing her confessional-rock juggernaut, Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette is still dogged by lame jokes about Full House’s Dave Coulier (the alleged subject of her vitriolic “You Oughta Know”) and her questionable use of irony in “Ironic.” But catty disses can’t keep down a powerhouse like Morissette, who’s turned far worse drama into five albums of touching catharsis. Though best known for her angry outbursts, she’s proved more adept at eloquently dissecting her own personal turmoil so others don’t repeat her mistakes—2002’s Under Rug Swept remains a particular must-hear for those in need of relationship survival tips.
This summer’s Flavors of Entanglement is even better. The album is a hot emotional mess, featuring Morissette in full-on crisis mode as she chronicles her called-off engagement to actor Ryan Reynolds in excruciating detail. If that sounds like more of the same, it is—and isn’t. She’s covered similar turf before, but the songwriting here is stronger and the music more beat-driven as she veers between oh-no-he-didn’t diatribes (“Straitjacket”), hopeful breakthroughs (“Incomplete”) and stark meditations on her own insecurities (“Tapes,” “It’s a Bitch to Grow Up”). Like the rest of Morissette’s catalog, Flavors gains extra oomph in concert, as even its saddest songs are transformed into triumphant group sing-alongs—a sound loud and joyous enough to drown out the unbelievers altogether.