Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Fiona Apple: Extraordinary Machine [Clean Slate/Epic, 2005]
Instead of delivering the music a sharp-tongued breakup record by an empowered young female would imply--if not folk-rock plain and simple, then emotional piano-woman pop--Apple adapts Broadway show tune to confessional mode. Although Mike Elizondo adds momentum, Jon Brion's colors still predominate, and the melodic and structural contours are all Apple's. Ira Gershwin she's not; Betty Comden she's not either. But she wouldn't be half as inspiring if they were what she was aiming for. A-