September 16, 1996 12:00 PM

Fiona Apple

The title of this compelling first album from a young New York City singer-songwriter (who happens to be celebrating her 19th birthday on Friday, Sept. 13) is appropriate, considering the wave of superior female talent that has recently swept through pop. The astonishing depth and elegance of this disc suggests that she may ride the crest of that swell for some time.

A sort of hybrid of Alanis Morissette and Nina Simone—part rebellious rocker and part sultry jazz singer—Apple comes on tough in songs like “Sleep to Dream,” a slow, smoldering tune in which she kisses off a reluctant lover (“You say love is a hell you cannot bear/And I say gimme mine back and then go there, for all I care”).

Then she turns tender in the sexy, slinking “Shadowboxer.” No matter her mood, Apple writes literate, to-the-point lyrics and melodies at once jazz-inspired and Top 40-ready. Tidal, like its creator, is an album that deserves to make a big splash. (WORK/Clean Slate)

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