Song of the Week: “Hot Knife” by Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple’s “Hot Knife” doesn’t hit me quite as hard when I haven’t first listened to the rest of the album. It has something to do with tension and release, work and payoff. “Hot Knife” begins like the rest of the album: a piece of textured percussion.  But when her voice shows up, it’s rhythmically locked-in, and it’s singing a sappy love metaphor that could have been at home in a Motown song. It registers as funny/surprising, not ironic, even as more voices (Fiona’s sister + a second Fiona) are piled onto each other. But this layering is as studio as the song gets–it threatens to explode into a full band and/or electronic hit but never extends beyond its constraints: voice, piano, and percussion. Which is to say: Somebody could make some good money adding a couple more instrumental tracks and firing it off to the radio stations. If they had the artist’s say-so. Which they won’t.

-Gabe Durham

Gabe Durham is the author of FUN CAMP, a novel forthcoming from Mud Luscious Press. Other writings have appeared in Quarterly West, Mid-American Review, The Lifted Brow, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He now lives in Los Angeles, CA.




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Contact Jackie Clark: jackie [at] coldfrontmag [dot] com.

See all Songs of the Week here.