When the Pawn

Fiona Apple - When the Pawn
Critic Score
Based on 8 reviews
1999 Ratings: #29 / 112
User Score
Based on 466 ratings
1999 Ratings: #9
Liked by 38 people
November 9, 1999 / Release Date
LP / Format
Clean Slate / Epic / Label
Suggest a Genre
Abuse of this feature may prevent future contributions from your account.
Sign In to rate and review



Pawn is immediately grabbing, and instead of fading upon further plays, it reveals more with each listen, whether it's a lyrical turn of phrase or an unexpected twist in the arrangement.

Rolling Stone

Apple has the talent, not to mention the fame and fortune, to seclude herself from the big bad world ahead of her. But Fiona II makes you hope that she'll find a way to use her talent as a connection to the world instead. Because she's an artist who deserves a shot at growing up.


For her second album of Amos-aping MTV-branded Lilith Fair fodder, the barmiest, prettiest pretender to Tori's throne of corporate crackpot chic deals unashamedly in that tired and trusted heavyweight heart-tugging currency: relationships.

When the Pawn is probably the most intense album of Fiona Apple but also the most challenging one. Following Tidal isn't an easy task as Tidal was so good but I think she did a great sophomore album.

She conserves her piano/jazzy touch but she expriments with new sonority time to time in this album. This is the case with On the Bound. It can be a bit disturbing near the end but gosh her lyrics are even more painful here as she seems to be completely unhappy with her lovelife. One good point ... read more
He said "it's all in your head"
And I said "so's everything"
But he didn't get it
I thought he was a man but he was just a little boy
There is not much to say about the incredible ‘When The Pawn…’ that has not been said before, but it is probably still my favorite Fiona Apple record all these years later. There are entire tracks where every lyric is viscerally beautiful, see “Paper Bag”, “The Way Things Are”, or “Get Gone (or most of the other tracks for that matter). The mixture of rock, art-pop, and jazz in Apple’s songwriting and Jon Brion’s production is just ... read more
Still guided by Apple's bite and passion, When The Pawn has somewhat less standout tracks as Tidal does but is still an empowering and emotional bit of musicianship. Far less on this album is Apple subdued and soft, allowing her most visceral feelings to be splatteted on the page and delivered with great gusto. I found myself somewhat more chilled when her music was toned down, making this album just a peg below her debut record, but by no means is this album not something that I don't want to ... read more
It's hard to get over the common case of "sophomore slump", but Fiona Apple manages to get over that hurdle with ease. While it's pretty much on par with "Tidal" in terms of quality, "When the Pawn" is a lot more ferocious and intense! I mean, she's just angry here, just frustrated about how she handled her past relationships. Even more of her songwriting talent is on display here, along with a growth in terms of lyrical ability and, of course, her great vocals ... read more
Purchasing When the Pawn from Amazon helps support Album of the Year. Or consider a donation?
Contributions By
royalflush, philthy
Become a Donor
Donor badge, no ads + more benefits.

Year End Lists


Track List

  1. On The Bound 
  2. To Your Love 
  3. Limp 
  4. Love Ridden 
  5. Paper Bag 
  6. A Mistake 
  7. Fast As You Can
  8. The Way Things Are
  9. Get Gone
  10. I Know
Sign in to comment

Added on: June 18, 2012