Alanis Morissette's story is one of the more interesting in 90's pop music, in my opinion. The Canadian singer/songwriter was a former Nickelodeon television star and eventually went on to have some success as a perky pop star in Canada. In 1995, producer Glen Ballard and Morissette delivered "Jagged Little Pill", a rock/pop album that contained "You Oughta Know", followed by a legion of equally radio-friendly and catchy hits from the album. That album, which sold multi-millions of copies, was followed by "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie", a more spiritual outing that may have not been the commerical success that the prior release was, but offered a more mature and interesting Morissette. That release was followed by the accoustic MTV Unplugged performance; a relaxed Morissette provided some of her finest moments, turning previously poppy rockers into somewhat more complex and subdued numbers as well as providing a terrific cover of the Police's "King of Pain".
Morisette is equally successful in this "Music in High Places" documentary, a journey that has the singer visiting the Navajo Nation and learning about the culture while providing accoustic performances in the midst of some incredible scenery. Although the singer proved that she could belt out a number with the loud "You Oughta Know", her quieter numbers provide a better listen of her singing ability. Although I'll say that Morissette does not have one of the strongest voices in pop music today, her singing often works superbly because she has a fascinating and wonderful feel for the rhythms of her lyrics, adding strong expression, warmth and great detail from word-to-word. It's really singing and storytelling, often done with a feeling of real emotion and honesty. Subtle changes in how the singer hits a note in her live performances often end up making them more dynamic and compelling, as well.
This edition of the "Music in High Places" series (there are several, as musicians from various genres visit different and often fascinating places around the world) is the one in the series which I've seen that provided the most insight into the area. While all of them have gone to interesting and often beautiful areas, this one (which I believe is the first in the series) provided a good mix of performance and some interesting (if unfortunately rather brief) insights into the Navajo people. Morissette, who has often seemed very interested in all things spiritual, seems deeply respectful and very impressed by her hosts and their culture. There's a little bit more in the way of cutting away from the performances to other footage (while keeping the audio going) during this "Music in High Places" than the other ones I've seen, but I certainly didn't mind it here. As per usual, it seems, the MIHP crew quite superbly captures stunning scenery and this is some of the most exceptional landscape I've seen them visit so far.
Songs: Baba, That I Would Be Good, No Pressure Over Cappuccino, U R, Heart of the House, Your House, I Was Hoping, Uninvited, Ironic.
VIDEO: "Alanis Morisette: Music in High Places" is presented by Image Entertainment in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is good, if a little inconsistent. While sharpness and detail are often very pleasant, the picture can occasionally look noticably a little bit softer. A few problems - a tiny bit of shimmering, a couple of instances of slight edge enhancement - were spotted, but really didn't cause much distraction. Overall, a very enjoyable viewing experience.
SOUND: "Music in High Places" is presented by Image Entertainment in remixed Dolby Digital 5.1. Being one of the earlier "Music in High Places" titles, the sound seems a little less slick and polished than the audio quality of some of the later editions. However, this actually worked nicely to this program's advantage, crisply and naturally capturing Morisette's vocals and the band's instrumentals in the wonderful accoustics of the environment. The surrounds are used very subtly in this mix, with the front speakers handling most of the music quite nicely. Audio quality is very enjoyable, as Morisette's vocals remained crisp and clear, as did the instrumentals.
MENUS: The menus aren't animated nor do they have music in the background, but they are nicely designed and easily navigated.
EXTRAS: Biography and two featurettes, "Behind The Scenes" and "Getting There". Both of the featurettes, as with the supplementals on the other "MIHP" titles, are nicely done looks at the production and not "promotional".
Final Thoughts: One of the best editions I've seen of the "Music in High Places" series, Morissette offers a set of wonderful accoustic performances of some of her stronger material. The locations are stunning and captured beautifully, while the element of learning more about the Navajo culture made for a great overall program. Image Entertainment's DVD edition offers fine audio/video quality and a couple of supplements. Recommended.