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Regret and Rebirth

Death and detachment punctured the balloon, shot it down like a clay pigeon.

Alanis Morissette’s records always have come across as giant mood rings, her emotions as bare as a birthday suit.

Her previous album, 2004’s lively "So Called Chaos," basked in the glow of premarital bliss, buoyant enough to float on water.

Fast forward to four years later, and Morissette, dealing with both a broken-off engagement and the passing of her grandmother, has released one of her darkest, most turbulent albums, "Flavors of Entanglement," which is like a series of storm clouds invading a sunny day.

"It reflected some serious dis-assemblings in my personal life, and it’s sort of far-reaching," Morissette says of the disc. "It’s like a broken moment captured, and then, I like to think, a phoenix rising.

"It allowed me to hit rock bottom in a way that I’d never done before," she continues. "I’d always sort of bottom dwelled, but I never really bounced off the bottom. The best news of all for me was that there is a bottom, because I used to think that emotions were bottomless and if I didn’t calibrate it, that I would be eaten whole. So now that I know that when I surrender, there’s a bottom and I can bounce back up. That’s the snapshot of this record."

Sonically, the album reflects the inner turmoil that inspired it. Produced by Guy Sigsworth, a tech-savvy beatsmith who’s worked with Bjork and Madonna, the disc is layered with electronic textures, loops and a dark, digital pulse.

It’s an album of rebirth and regret, about starting over and moving on.

"I don’t know who you’re talking to with such (expletive) disrespect," Morissette growls on "Straitjacket," a hard-eyed kiss-off that sets a no-nonsense tone for "Entanglement." "This (expletive) is driving me crazy."

By turns haunting and defiant, spare and forest-dense, the disc veers from a near-world music percussive thrush ("Citizen of the Planet") to stark balladry delivered in tremulous whispers ("Not As We").

It’s among Morissette’s most distinctive sounding efforts.

"To be objective, I think that Guy Sigsworth brought a very technological aspect to the soundscape of this record," she says. "I’ve always loved hybridizing, whether it’s in the kitchen in food or design in my house or music. I love taking all the different genres of music that I love and squishing them into one moment as best as I can without creating a train wreck — although those are fun, too."

The album feels like one big, prolonged release, an expulsion of tempestuous, pent-up energy.

"For me, it was about reducing shame," Morissette says. "As a woman, I had shame around being powerful. I had shame around being a warrior. I had shame around being angry. I had shame around being vulnerable and devastated and ugly and rejected and all these seemingly shameful things.

"So for me in art, there’s this no-holds-barred approach when I write a poem, or frankly, even when I write an e-mail sometimes," she continues. "As soon as I start to write, there’s this uncensored, unedited freedom to step outside of the shackles of some of the thoughts in my head around being ashamed. So if I could offer anything to anyone who would listen to my songs, it would be just a four-minute moment of dropping any shame around being human."

Because of the force of her words at times — not to mention the barely contained fury of her first signature hit, "You Oughta Know" — Morissette often gets pegged as the angry rock chick.

This, she doesn’t seem to mind all that much.

To hear her tell it, she’s not going to get mad at, well, being mad.

"If I’m going to be one-dimensionalized, it’s an honor to be considered angry, because anger has been swept under the carpet so much with regards to women, that it’s flattering," Morissette says. "But the whole concept of being one-dimensionalized in general is a funny concept, because I think when people can encapsulate someone in a sentence, they feel calmed by it somehow. If they can label something, it’s almost like they feel safe or they can let go, so I see a lot of people doing that.

"But then the people who want to go into the deeper layers certainly will have a lot more come up besides anger," she adds. "But to the extent that people want one word or one moniker, I’ll take it. I’ll take whatever one you want to throw my way."

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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