This album is different from any other album Alanis Morissette has created in the past—in The Storm Before the Calm, she opts for instrumentals rather than her usual vocal tracks. The songs may not be a typical listen, but they have an admirable originality and cool ambient tones.
Alanis Morissette is a Canadian-American singer and songwriter who began her career in the early 90s. Originally from Ottawa, her primary genre consists of mostly pop as well as some alternative and ambient music. She has won 36 awards, the most recent being the Juno Award for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year in 2021 for her album Such Pretty Forks in the Road.
Alanis Morissette’s The Storm Before The Calm album has been popular since its release in June. It is her 10th studio album.
The album consists of eleven meditation songs recorded during the pandemic. They are very calming tones with no vocals—it feels as though they are to soothe the mind during troubling times.
It’s different from her previous recordings. Usually she sings on her tracks, and thematically she tends to write about relationships. Sonically, her previous recordings have been less calm because of the louder instrumental inclusions (such as with her most famous song, “Ironic”).
The 10th song in her album, called “Mania”, stands out because it is not like the others. It is more abrupt, loud and out-there. It sounded like it could have been recorded by a rock band while the other songs were more calming and meditative.
The songs I enjoyed the most were “Restore” and “Mania.” “Restore” starts with chimes and then some sound effects that seem meant to call to or alert listeners. If you close your eyes, you can try to picture yourself somewhere magical and away from reality, which is what the sound effects evoke. It brings out an enthusiastic beat with rhythmic drumming that reminds me of traveling. It also reminds me of background music in a fantasy or safari adventure movie, such as Avatar or The Lion King.
As I mentioned earlier, “Mania” is vastly different from all of the other songs in the album because it contains more rock-like energy with the drums, guitar, and sonic elements. It starts with a cool beat, then transforms into a more chaotic piece, sounding somewhat glitchy. The instruments generate a bizarre noise, almost like when someone blows a horn for the first time.
I like it because of its contrast to the other songs, and because it’s kind of weird. It emphasizes the storm’s chaos while the other songs bring forth the calm. Also, this song is the second last track, so it reminds us that storms can cross at any moment, even after a period of calmness. Then afterwards, serenity comes into play again.
Generally, it is not the kind of music I would listen to. I prefer Morisette’s previous recordings that feature her vocals, as they feel more meaningful. I believe that since this album was recorded during the pandemic, its concept brings forth the idea of the pandemic being the storm and the calm being when the pandemic passes.
I would consider adding some of these songs into my calming study music playlist, as it fits that low-fi vibe needed to focus on getting work done. I could even imagine listening to them for general calming purposes, relief, and relaxation—aside from “Mania”.