The latest prefab musical thorn in our collective side comes in the form of a willowy, black-clad 18-year-old with lips that smack of collagen and a penchant for Maya Angelou. According to Fiona Apple, if "lyrics are conceived out of honesty" they are art regardless of anyone else's opinion -- such sweet, helpful insight from a girl with an teenager's body, a 10-year-old's face, and all the money and might of Sony behind her. Is it any wonder that little Miss Apple was gracing the pages of Billboard and Time before she ever played a live show? Granted, Apple's "old-soul eloquence and depth" made common musical conventions -- like performing and building a fan base -- completely unnecessary. After all, Apple writes songs that explore "the danger of desire and vulnerability" with a "wisdom that is beyond age." Whew ... all that between tragic photo shoots that involve bare navels and snow flurries and music videos that have Apple staring blankly at a sound board with big doe eyes. No wonder the girl has been in therapy (apparently a big selling point). Fortunately for Apple, her vocal talent is unquestionable. Her husky alto already bears the timbre of a woman twice her age, and the sparse arrangements filling Tidal seem an appropriate outlet for all those "adult passions" coursing through her slight frame. If lyrically she comes off more like a melodramatic Gen-Xer than an Angelou prodigy, one must bear in mind that most infant songwriters don't have their prepubescent poetry laid bare for the nation. Give her some time and a new PR person, and then maybe .... Apple gives live performance a shot on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. at Bimbo's 365 Club; call 474-0365. ... It was a close call, but Bimbo's manages to redeem itself this week with a performance by one of today's finest female pop vocalists. (This one is old enough to drink.) The child of an actress and a filmmaker, Poe spent her early youth traveling the world until her parents split up when she was 16. She left them and returned to New York City where she became legally emancipated and took up squatting in an abandoned building on the Lower East Side. Hello finds the grown Poe working with some of the hottest commodities in the biz, including Jane's Addiction/Alice in Chains vet Dave Jerden, as she fuses her experiences into one cohesive, sardonic, aurally exquisite smorgasbord about her life in the real world. Dough-headed guitar riffs shift under layers of trip-hop groove and jazz-flavored ambience while Poe conveys a wide range of emotions -- anxiety, awe, homicidal mania, love, lust, humor, any and all. The final honey coating -- Poe's crystalline voice -- gives each line a haunting resonance instead of rendering her songs powerless. It is a beautiful angel singing in your ear: "I can do it to you gently/ I can do it with animal grace/ I can do it with precision/ I can do it with gourmet taste/ But either way/ Either way/ I want to kill you/ I want to blow you away." Poe performs on Monday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. at Bimbo's 365 Club; call 474-0365. ... It's a funny ol' story. Last year, Big Soul was the Paradise house band. Now they're superhuge French celebrities who can't walk down the streets of Paris without being swarmed by a mob of devoted fans. How'd it happen? A Parisian mystery tourist brought a copy of the band's self-produced debut home from one of Big Soul's jubilant, sweat-inducing shows. The album made it into the hands of an enthusiastic French DJ, who made "Le Brio" (the band's only French-language song) into a dance hit in his club. After trying unsuccessfully to contact the band, the mystery DJ played the recording for Sony Music France. The band moved to Paris in February of this year. The album quickly rose to No. 2 on the French charts and was certified gold in July. Big Soul has since appeared on every national radio and television show imaginable and played sold-out tours throughout Europe. Bassist/co-vocalist Caroline Wampole has become a role model for French girls everywhere for her straightforward approach to music and life (and her willingness to smash her bass onstage); Big Soul mastermind Kelleth Chinn's trademark Jimmy Page solo, which is played with his guitar over his head ... running, has made him a guitar hero in Europe. While back in town recording their second album, Big Soul has agreed to play a long overdue stateside gig. If you don't already know the genius that is Big Soul, get down to the Paradise Lounge on Friday, Nov. 1, at 10 p.m. and find out what the staff knew all along: When it comes to funk-a-punk, there can be no one finer. Call 861-6906.