Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Fiona Apple makes a fantastical return with “Where the Shadows Lie.”
The music of Fiona Apple has a way of making itself feel suspended in time. From the straightforward, piano-heavy compositions of her 1996 debut Tidal to the raucous, ramshackle qualities of 2020’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters, the iconic musician might’ve been a spokesperson of turn-of-the-century doom — but her sound is void of a specific era.
Really, it’s a trait that Apple shares with the Lord of the Rings franchise, which has grown from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel series in the ’50s to a run of blockbuster films and, now, an Amazon Original Series. It’s no wonder she was picked to contribute to the soundtrack for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, on a season-finale anthem called “Where the Shadows Lie.”
With music by composer Bear McCreary, “Where the Shadows Lie” was inspired by a Rings-verse poem by Tolkien himself. Poetry has long been an apparent prerequisite to Apple’s music, and though “Where the Shadows Lie” is void of the intimacy and sentimentality she usually forges, her emphatic vocals instead feel victorious and subtly haunting.
In the track’s final moments, she belts the song’s title, and you can almost envision her voice bouncing off the stone walls of a castle chamber. A chorus swells and swells behind her, affirming Apple’s acute skill of conjuring powerful emotion — whatever emotions those might be.
— Abby Jones