Even for those of us who watched SXSW last month from our laptops rather than in person over the glow of our iPhone Twitter apps, Fiona Apple's performance was a revelation. The studio version of "Every Single Night," one of a small handful of new songs she sang in Austin, is a revelation in its own right. The first recording to surface from the open-vein singer-songwriter's follow-up to 2005's still-great Extraordinary Machine only refines the music-box-like intricacy of the live rendition, as Apple's expressive vocals alternate between emotion-wracked whispers and thunderous yawps that suggest tUnE-yArDs with another painful decade-plus worth of perspective.
A song about an internal conflict, "Every Single Night" is also a recording in conflict with itself, as Apple's feral vocals threaten to rip apart their self-consciously rococo backdrop. "I just wanna feel everything," the returning Queen of Pain murmurs at one point, stretching her words out into new shapes. It's a lyric so crucial she repeats it: For this woman, feeling "everything" demands not just a passionate performance, but also a precisely constructed arrangement.
And "Every Single Night" is only a brief preview of what's to come. On June 19, Clean Slate and Epic Records will release The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do. Also catch Apple on a 27-date, North American summer tour.