Equal parts artistic exploration and therapeutic exercise, Alanis Morissette’s newest album finds her in the midst of a musical sea change. Leaving behind the aggressive, deeply personal alternative pop and rock that defines her career, The Storm Before The Calm dives headfirst into meditative music.
The set contains no words, save for the album’s name and its curiously titled tracks. Each of the instrumentals explore slow, musical movements accompanied by a variety of sounds pulled from both western and eastern traditions. There is little dynamism on display—fine considering the album’s purpose—but Morissette also fails to offer any breakthroughs in the genre. A quick search on youtube yields compositions that match or surpass her attempts at creating memorable soundscapes.
Trying to decide whether one is listening to the first minute of an early Moody Blues album or the end credits of Gladiator quickly loses its novelty, and most listeners won’t make it through the lengthy one hour and forty-six minute runtime without falling asleep. Perhaps that is the idea. To her credit, Morissette selects great lush sounds, and her vocalizations impress as always. Points are awarded for ambition and effort, but subsequently relinquished for lackluster results. The Storm Before The Calm reaches beyond its grasp, and serves as nothing more than a footnote in Morissette’s career.