Music: Alanis Morissette’s “Havoc and Bright Lights”, by Rishi Deva
Only 25 when she skyrocketed to fame in 1995 through the intentional success of her album “Jagged Little Pill”, a poetic diary of candid and cutting songs, Alanis Morissette set the stage for women to not be afraid to be themselves and express how they truly feel. Up until then, the music industry tended to pigeonhole women singers as either ball-breakers or seductresses. But Alanis is neither.
Following her initial success, Alanis confesses to having found fame hollow, and needing to learn to use it as a opportunity to live with the same courage and honesty she expresses in her songs through her day-to-day life.
Alanis’s 1997 trip to India and a spiritual awakening gave birth to songs like Thank U, in which her voice shifted from what had often been righteous indignation to a more expansive sense of gratitude. Alanis is now known for this happier, more life-affirming expression, leading the way for conscious artists.
On her recent album “Havoc and Bright Lights”, Alanis continues to share her life through music, this time, through the lens of being married and a full time caregiver for her two-year-old son. With the same openheartedness for which she is known, she expresses the trials and tribulations, and ultimately the joy, of a life in service.
Some of the songs are beautifully written and produced, such as Guardian, Empathy, Havoc and Receive. These songs work well because the music and arrangements suit her artistic style. The lyrics feel sincere and the instrumentation matches the honesty and openness in the way she sings.
However, Alanis seems just to sit best in a more rock format. Take her out of that and somehow everything goes flat. Much of the record is electronically driven, which, rather than supporting her creative voice, seems to weaken the impact of her music. At worst, there are moments on the album that sound on the verge of the darker side of New Age music, that is, ungrounded and lacking in sincerity. And that’s a shame, because nothing could be further from Alanis’s message and general élan as an artist.
Some reviewers have called this album weak and blame the weakness on her motherhood. This is unfair and inaccurate, because it is the candour she shares through her motherhood that makes this album strong. Ironically, what weakens the album is possibly having chosen the wrong producers. The slick electronic production on this record just does not always work and gives the album a tone of being transitional rather than accomplished.
In a recent interview, Alanis references having been inspired by people like Tori Amos and Sinead O’Connor. This is clear in this record. Alanis wears her heart on her sleeve and sings from experience in a manner that connects with the listener in a most profound and honest way. The songs that work well wrap around the listener like a mother embraces her child – soothing, caressing and leaving one feeling supported, understood and not alone.
Rishi Deva (Rishi Gerald) is the CEO of Kupid’s Play Records. He describes Kupid’s Play like this: “Kupid’s Play is the Sound of the I Am Revolution. As an international record label devoted to raising global consciousness we bring awakened artists to the commercial mainstream. Our vision extends beyond a traditional record label. We know impossibilities are not real and build non-traditional revenue models by embracing new technologies in the current economic landscape. We know music is everywhere. Kupid’s Play actively seeks out creative opportunities to get its artists’ music to their fans in new ways ensuring that the Sound of the I Am Revolution is heard.” With two decades of experience in the music industry, Rishi has been nominated for numerous marketing awards and earned a Gold Record in the music industry for management.