Fiona Apple Extraordinary Machine

Apple’s highly anticipated return to recording falls flat. The title cut is surprisingly fresh and catchy, done in an over-the-top jazz diva style and backed up by an orchestra. Unfortunately, the quirky opening song is the premature climax on an otherwise tedious and meandering collection of music. It seems that the songstress has lost her way at sea with overly serious songs like "O’ Sailor” and "Parting Gift.” This self-important album seems forced and unnatural, like a relationship gone sour; things were once good but they’ve gone downhill and all attempts at salvaging the love just end up in more tension and arguments. Perhaps Apple says it best herself on the ninth number, singing, "Steady, steady, steady, going nowhere.” (Sony BMG)