[HOT TRACK]Facing the music and the truth

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[HOT TRACK]Facing the music and the truth

There are more things to rant about than sad stories of love lost. And it's not Alanis Morissette's style to beg fickle lovers to come back. She keeps her cool, pens lyrics about how screwed up men are, then proceeds to rock it hard.

Morissette boldly belts out things people try to hide. For this, listeners react with a blend of wild enthusiasm and caustic antagonism. She's been cast as a man-hater, which is no surprise, for tops on her agenda is empowering women to have self-confidence.

This Canadian vocalist and songwriter's 1995 album, "Jagged Little Pill," took the pop world by storm, and became one of the biggest selling albums ever. Her next release, 1998's "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie" sold almost as well, and established Morissette as a gutsy and intelligent artist.

Since then, Morissette has kept herself busy with nonmusical activities. She appeared in "Sex and the City" and toured in far-flung regions like the Middle East and Eastern Europe. While globetrotting, she took a keen interest in political and cultural issues. Now her third album, "Under Rug Swept," is out, and full of expressions of her ideals.

"I just wanted to share as much comfort as I possibly could through the context of music," Morissette said of her latest release. Her vocals are still supercharged, but hit registers a tad lower than, say, Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries.

Morissette opens with "21 Things I Want in a Lover," which features a mean guitar riff. What does she want? Conspicuously absent from the list is a hunk with high cheekbones and sparkling eyes. She's got ideals, remember? She asks for high-minded things like political awareness and opposition to capital punishment.

But Morissette moves on to more playful subjects, as opposed to her tendency to complain about everything. In "Narcissus," she pokes fun at an egoistic momma's boy, employing her trademark vibrato shouts with an engaging chorus refrain. "Hands Clean" is true Morissette style, highly expressive and assertive, the voice the prominent instrument. She switches to the serene with a piano solo on "That Particular Time." The finale, "Utopia," embodies her desire for serenity and perfection, with a mandolin providing the compassionate atmosphere.

"Under Rug Swept" is certainly not the disk to create a romantic atmosphere. It's more a gutsy and insightful guide, put to alternately powerful and tender tunes, about how not to mess up your life.

by Chun Su-jin

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