On Alanis Morissette’s first release since ending her 13-year tenure with Maverick Records, the singer-songwriter (and sometimes actress) teamed up with co-producers Guy Sigsworth and Joe Chiccarelli on Havoc and Bright Lights with winning results. Obviously, being freed from the restrictions of a long-term recording contract has propelled Morissette into a euphoric ataraxia, which comes through loud and clear throughout the 52-minute set.
The former queen of pain is now a devoted wife and mother, but that doesn’t stop Morissette from intermittently cranking up the fuzz of electric guitar when necessary, most notably on the crunchy and chaotic “Numb” and lead-off single “Guardian” (easily her most melodic tune in years). Morissette’s poetic discourse of intimately describing her feelings still abounds, but is elegantly emoted here with cool restraint. Her mezzo-soprano pipes and songwriting continue to improve with age, like an uncorked bottle of Bordeaux hidden away for a special occasion.
Unavoidably this, like all of Morissette’s work, will unfairly be compared to her epochal Jagged Little Pill, but Havoc and Bright Lights is just as intelligent and inspiring in its own way. Kudos should be given to Morissette for continuing to move forward instead of merely trying to duplicate musical ghosts from her past.
Bonus tracks:”Big Sur,” “Guru” (featuring Morissette’s husband and rapper SoulEye) “Tantra,” and “Permission” are worth seeking out.