Music: Facing a Broken Mirror

From Fiona Apple, an album of fractured beauty

Like shards from a shattered mirror, Fiona Apple's new album, When the Pawn Hits... (Clean Slate/Epic), glitters with reflective surfaces and sharp edges. The singer-songwriter's debut album, Tidal (1996), was a work of ingenue ingenuity, delicately designed, bright with innocence, laden with the prospect of future accomplishment. This follow-up CD is a promise kept: the 22-year-old's new compositions, angry but articulate, veering between gentle balladry and art-pop, don't need the crutch of precociousness to establish their worth. These are songs that stand on their own.

The full title of the album is a poem, written in frustration by Apple after seeing...

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