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Fiona Apple

Extraordinary Machine (Epic)

Fiona-philes will no doubt raise their wine to the heavens and toast their tortured troubadour for her latest burst of brilliance. Six years in the making, Extraordinary Machine, originally produced by Jon Brion, then scrapped (except for two songs) and retooled by hip-hop sage Mike Elizondo, was the subject of much controversy, with fans protesting outside Sony, demanding the release of the Brion sessions (Apple held them back, not Sony, and they were eventually cyber-leaked). But for the casual Fiona fan, the question remains: Is the disc worth a spin? Sort of. A few songs make good on her promised eminence, particularly "O' Sailor," "Window" and "Red Red Red," which stumbles like a somnambulist on an eerie, uncertain beat. But much of the album is lacking. Several melody-free songs find Apple lyrically masturbating rather than conveying meaning, and the book-ending Brion tunes play like an aborted musical. Download a few of these tracks; let your obsessive Fiona friend fill in the rest.

 
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