Seemingly waiting in record company arsenals for the most opportune time to come out of their hiding places, kinder and gentler artist albums have since surfaced in the wake of 9/11. Such is the case with Alanis Morissette’s Under Rug Swept. Mastered and delivered to Maverick months prior to the WTC tragedy, the album landed Up On Shelf Hidden while label and artist worked out the fine print of Morissette’s uncertain musical future. One track, the serendipitous “Utopia,” was released online in an effort to calm American hearts and minds: “We’d rise post-obstacle more defined, more grateful/We would heal, be humbled and be unstoppable.” The rest of the album’s balm, though, comes in less literal, pop-structured forms; the disc’s 11 songs, including the super-catchy “Precious Illusions” and the hit-bound first single “Hands Clean,” are dressed up in toe-tapping rhythms, crunchy guitars and downright infectious melodies. For the most part, Morissette abandons the spiritual insights of 1998’s Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie for more personal, lovelorn truths. The wisdom of the singer’s landmark sophomore album is not lost, however, as the semi-jagged little pills of new tracks like “That Particular Time” and “So Unsexy” are delivered from an older, wiser perspective. “Narcissus” finds the analytical artist once again boldly telling it like it is (“Dear momma’s boy, I know you’ve had your butt licked by your mother”) but her sentiments are a bit less potent than they were seven years ago. The album’s opening track, “21 Things I Want In A Lover,” is structured in Morissette’s distinct listy lyrical fashion (“Do you have a big intellectual capacity but know that is does not equate wisdom?”) while the euphonic “Surrendering” is a slightly more cynical “Head Over Feet.” The album, produced solely by Morissette, simply glows when the singer shelves the anger and focuses on the kind of unambitious melodies that follow you long after the disc comes sputtering to an end.
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