Alanis Morissette has been spilling her trauma in her music since long before that became a way of securing neat, PR-able hooks or a path to market yourself as a “relatable” artist, even if your bank account and distance from the real world would beg to differ. ‘Jagged Little Pill’, her international debut album which turns 25 next year, covered sexual abuse, the villainisation of sexually active young women, and the everyday gripes of someone in young adulthood. She took the idea of the angry young woman – previously confined to scenes like riot grrrl and grunge – into the mainstream and won five Grammys and sold millions of records despite attempts at misogynistic pigeonholing.
‘Reasons I Drink’, the first track from her ninth studio album ‘Such Pretty Forks In The Road’ (due out May 1, 2020), might not fizz with exactly the same visceral anger as on that seminal record, but there’s still an urgency and rawness to Morissette. Similarly, she’s still mining her life’s experiences, using her insight into addiction to explain the comfort the very things that are bad for you can bring: “Nothing can give reprieve like they do/Nothing can give a break for this soldier like they do.”
Morissette has previously been open about her struggles with an eating disorder and has described alcohol as a “secondary addiction”. It’s these battles that she revisits in both the song’s title and its later lyric: “Here are the reasons I eat/Reasons I feel everything so deeply when I’m not medicated.”
On a thumping chorus driven by bright piano, she gets to the very heart of addiction itself. “I feel such rapture and my comfort is so strong,” she cries. “One more hit/It feels so helpful in my need for respite.” Later, she acknowledges both the reliance that keeps addicts tied to their vices and the people in their lives that become collateral damage because of them.
Musically, ’Reasons I Drink’ might feel safer than the searing angst of ‘Jagged Little Pill’, but she manages to end everything with a kiss-off that both proves that she’s far from out of touch just yet and avoids sounding like your mum trying to keep up with modern slang. “One more rip,” she hollers. “I go from one lilypad to another to stay lit.” After decades in the game, Morissette is still as vital as ever.