Our Fiona Apple albums ranked list looks at an extraordinary young musical artist who has only released five studio albums over a span of 25 years, yet has become one of the most respected musical artists in the industry. Fiona Apple was born September 13th 1977 in the heart of New York City. Her father Roscoe Maggart Jr was an actor who appeared in the film’s Dressed to Kill and The World According to GARP as well as many other films and TV shows. Fiona Apple released her first album at 19 years old in 1996 entitled Tidal Wave. The same age Kate Bush released her first album. Fiona Apple followed up her extraordinary debut album with her sophomore effort When The Pawn… which was released in 1999.
After the release of her second album, Fiona Apple would take more time in between albums as each record she released would become a work of art and a critic favorite. Fiona Apple’s third album was released in 2005 entitled Extraordinary Machine. It would be seven more years before Fiona Apple released her fourth record called The Idler Wheel in 2012. Her longest stretch in between albums would occur between 2012 and 2020 when she released her most recent album entitled Fetch The Bolt Cutters. Our Fiona Apple albums ranked list takes a look at these five extraordinary albums and puts them in order of our favorites.
# 5 – The Idler Wheel…
Opening up our Fiona Apple albums ranked list is her wonderful album entitled The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do. The album is more commonly referred to as The Idler Wheel. The album was released in 2012. It was her highest debut spot on the Billboard top 200 where it reached number three. This was an extraordinary great album and we almost feel bad opening up this list with it. The problem is every Fiona Apple album is just brilliant. We have to start with one of them so we started with The Idler Wheel. What we love about this album is just the focus on the songs. The arrangements are very simple, yet the song melodies and lyrics are as deep as they can get. They are both moody and yet very catchy. Standout tracks include the album opener “Every Single Night, Daredevil, Jonathan, Werewolf,” and the album closer “Hot Knife.”
# 4 – When the Pawn….
For those of you who are not aware that the album title When The Pawn … is simply an abbreviation for a much longer title that will just not fit on those LP bin label dividers here it is…..When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ‘fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right,.
Whew, we actually had to start an entire new paragraph after that. The album When The Pawn… was Fiona Apple’s second album. The record was released in 1999. When The Pawn… contained the hit single “Fast As You Can,” which reached number 20 on the Billboard Modern Rock charts. Her second album was a more complex record than her first from a musical standpoint. It showed maturity in her writing as both an artist and a musician. Although sometimes with maturity doesn’t always come better songs. We still liked her first album better.
# 3 – Extraordinary Machine
In 2005, Fiona Apple released her third album entitled Extraordinary Machine. It had been six years since her last album entitled When The Pawn… was released in 1999. Fiona Apple did not disappoint with her third album. Many music publications named Extraordinary Machine album of the year. The album was also nominated for a Grammy award for Best Pop Vocal album. Four singles were released from the record including the songs “O Sailor, Parting Gift, Not About Love and Get Him Back.”
# 2 – Tidal
Fiona Apple’s Tidal album was the artist’s debut album. The album was released in 1996. The LP was a stunning debut record from such a young artist. In many ways it reminded me of Kate Bush and Tori Amos’s debut albums in the impact they had instantly. Fiona Apple enjoyed significant help from an element that Kate Bush never had when she released her debut album. That was MTV. Fiona Apple’s mesmerising blue eyes and very bad girl stare hypnotised an entire audience of millions of music fans when they were introduced to her music in the “Criminal,” video that seemed to be played on MTV every 15 minutes when the album was released. Fiona Apple even won a Grammy Award for Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for “Criminal.”
“Criminal,” was not the first single released from the album. “Criminal,” was actually the fifth of six singles released from Tidal Wave. The album’s first single was another extraordinary song entitled “Shadowboxer.” One of our other deep favorites from the album was the track “Sleep To Dream,” which was the album’s opening track and third single released from the album. 10 perfect songs from a marvelous debut album.
# 1 – Fetch the Bolt Cutters
During the coronavirus pandemic, many people found themselves with nothing to do but binge on Netflix and over eat. Now, not everyone did that as there were thousands and thousands of first responders, health care workers and essential workers who still continued to go to work every day as well as many others who worked from home or along in abandoned offices.. And of course there were those who could not go to work but just did not want to stay home watching TV. Some worked on their homes, some on their fitness and of course there were the artists who took that time to really dig deep into their art. And some of them made the greatest albums they ever released. One of them went by the name Fiona Apple and the album was called Fetch The Bolt Cutters.
Fiona Apple’s brilliant album Fetch The Bolt Cutters stands as the album of her career. The title says it all. It was an album in which an artist who always defied convention takes it to a new level in both song and instrumentation. The album echoes what Tom Waits had begun to do in the 1980s when he turned to the opening and closing of dresser drawers to be used as percussion instruments. Fiona Apple uses similar techniques in her use of percussion on the album Fetch The Bolt Cutters. Yet, it’s not just just the unique instrumentation that makes this album stand out, it’s the songs themselves that defines her best written material of all time. Songs like “Shameika,” which tell the story of middle school acceptance and identity, or the issues of depression in the song “Heavy Balloon.” Of course there are the deep songs about relationships like “Rack Of His.”
We can’t use the word maturity because Fiona Apple was a mature writer beyond her years starting with her very first album. The songs on Fetch The Bolt Cutters defines an artist reaching her peak of artistry within herself . A place that many artists never get to.
Fiona Apple Albums Ranked article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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