We gave it a B-
Befitting her first new recording in three years, Alanis Morissette’s ”Uninvited” starts auspiciously, with simple, chilly piano notes and Morissette’s recognizable wracked soprano. It’s the musical equivalent of a castle door creaking open. The creepy mood suits the lyric, a scornful kiss-off of what could be either a possessive lover or her own overwhelming celebrity status. (Or whatever it is she means by lines like ”Must be somewhat hard telling to watch them burn me shepherd.”)
Taking a cue from the orchestrated version of ”You Oughta Know” Morissette performed at the 1996 Grammys, the song then whips itself into a symphonic maelstrom. This is clearly her arty adult move, and she and coproducer Rob Cavallo (of Green Day fame) almost pull it off — except someone had the idea of ending the track with a hackneyed, squealing guitar solo of the sort that not even Styx use anymore. Sure, Morissette’s lived, but what has she learned?
What’s also auspicious about ”Uninvited” is that it’s not on a new Morissette album (that disc doesn’t even exist yet) but on the soundtrack of the Meg Ryan-Nicolas Cage film City of Angels. Like many of its movie-connected brethren, this one lurches awkwardly from one genre to another. Roots music is trotted out courtesy of blues oldies from Eric Clapton and John Lee Hooker; songs from the latest Paula Cole and Sarah McLachlan albums make for a Lilith Fair share. If you’re in the mood for a windswept score, English Patient composer Gabriel Yared offers up a chunk at disc’s end. Peter Gabriel makes a comeback of his own with his first new rock recording since the days when George Bush was President. Alas, ”I Grieve” is a murmur so pained that it practically curls into a fetal position before our very ears. Someone call Phil Collins — and quick! B-