Well this is so charming and sweet it's downright unexpected — considering the source. Fiona Apple has teamed up with her sister, a cabaret act known by the name Maude Maggart, to rework the 1950s tune "Middle of a Riddle," and it is totally precious and unlike most any of her previous efforts. In fact, it's dreamy!
The delightful ditty — written by Anton Karas and performed alongside Kay Armen in its original iteration — is a track on one of those Starbucks collaboration records, titled Sweetheart 2014. It's a surprising team-up, considering Apple's more typical tracks (cough cough "Hot Knife") make her, shall we say, less inclined to sing sweetly about the trials of love. To say nothing of her antics.
We're a big fan of Apple's work so it's exciting to hear a change of pace for the singer/songwriter, as well as those insanely captivating and pitch perfect harmonies. (Who knew sisters could collaborate so well? Someone should call mine and let her know), Maggart and Apple's complementary chords dip and dive around the song's simple melodies, crafting something that is equal parts delicate and purposeful. The soaring sing-songiness of the girls paired vocals is truly magical.
"Middle of a Riddle" has a characteristically vintage feel to it, placing it squarely on the soundtrack of some period mob film — at least in my mind. But seriously, can't you just picture it? The girls dressed in some, say, modest 1920s garb, singing the tune on stage at an old Italian haunt that's littered with hanging meats and wheels of cheese. The whole thing's drenched in red tones. If it were a Quentin Tarantino film, there'd be a bloodbath-style slaughter in the restaurant while the girls sang. It would be wonderful. You'd see that movie — admit it! It's all about ambiance.
Check out the tune:
And listen to the original: