Being now newly technologically equipped to play Spotify via my phone through a car stereo, my musical options on long trips are now broader, or at least more flexible and less in need of advance planning, than they used to be.
Thanksgiving-related and other driving the last few days offered an occasion to play through Fiona Apple's 3 classic albums (I'm not counting her first one, Tidal, as at that point she hadn't really found her voice yet). Then there was time for one more, by Mark Mulcahy, the former frontman of Miracle Legion who recently reemerged after an 8-year hiatus that apparently was triggered by a family tragedy.
The Mulcahy album is really good – witty, clever, literate, tuneful, sharp, catchy, etcetera. But playing it right after a Fiona Apple-fest doesn't show it off to best advantage, because it's a bit like taking a scenic trolley right after a rollercoaster ride that was loaded with free falls and loop-the-loops. Against that background, even very good songs can sound too contained by their conventions and form, whereas Fiona Apple's songs, even though she's a classicist who does all the standard things (verse, chorus, build to the climax, etc.) sound like they are trying to fight free of any such constraints.