Fiona Apple | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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As befits a temperamental, piano-plunking misunderstood artiste, Fiona Apple has always had a contentious relationship with the commercial pressures of fame. Her first video, in which she crawled around in a see-through bra and panty set, may have kept the world watching as she balled her fists and shook them, but she's since lobbed blazing barbs at her record company for sexing up her image, and two years ago had a very public falling-out with the label over the direction of her music. So she did what freaked-out pop stars do best--she disappeared for a bit. In her wake came so many other brassy post-teen piano balladeers--Nellie McKay, Vanessa Carlton, Alicia Keys--it appeared that she'd kicked off a genre. But now fair Fiona is back, showing off what always made her a standout: a forceful, husky voice and a penchant for squeezing pure pop from sublimely weird songs. Her third and latest album, Extraordinary Machine (Epic), is whimsical and occasionally ridiculous, with words plucked from a thesaurus stretched across obtuse jingles and off-color sounds. She's clearly committed not only to her own vision but to the belief that her fan base will follow her bread-crumb trail most anywhere. David Garza opens. Sun 12/4, 7 PM, Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine, 773-275-6800 or 312-559-1212, sold out. All ages.

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