Tori Amos – from the choirgirl hotel

Tori Amos - from the choirgirl hotelThis one was a real surprise. Since her debut album in 1992, Tori’s music has always been imbued with at least a little bit of rage, from the victimization theme of Little Earthquakes, to the revenge theme of Under The Pink, and 1996’s who-really- knows-what-this-one’s-about Boys For Pèlè. She’s been accused of being everything from an angry feminist to a lesbian, and people either love her music or hate it. (Amusingly, I was once told in an IRC discussion that since I’m male, I have no right to listen to or enjoy Tori’s music because I didn’t agree with one chatter on what a particular song was about – proof that interpretation is everything in Tori’s music.) But this album is a total departure both musically and emotionally. Sure, there are still some ballads that have Tori’s ominously depressing signature (hey – some of us actually like that about her music!), but for the most part this album is a little bit more uplifting and not quite so emotionally distressed – why, in a few cases, it sounds like she’s having fun with it! Another change in Tori’s sound is the addition of a full band, consisting mainly of players who have graced her previous efforts. This time, the one-girl-and-her-piano sound – which some people considered to be Tori’s permanently carved niche in pop music – is pushed into the background in favor of rockier and more experimental combinations which made such previous songs as “Caught A Lite Sneeze” and “The Waitress” such standouts. Possibly my favorite song on the album thus far has been “Raspberry Swirl”, an oddity since I normally can’t stand the thumping-drum-‘n’-bass style, but her vocals make it interesting, especially that positively sultry, breathy “Let’s go” that opens the song. In some places, a little bit of vocal processing makes this sound like4 out of 4 a song that could just as easily have come from Siouxsie and the Banshees.

The atypical burst of joy that fills most of Tori Amos’ latest entry makes it the best thing she’s done since Under The Pink, and is definitely worth some listening time.

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  1. Spark (4:14)
  2. Cruel (4:07)
  3. Black Dove (January) (4:39)
  4. Raspberry Swirl (3:58)
  5. Jackie’s Strength (4:27)
  6. Iieee (4:08)
  7. Liquid Diamonds (6:21)
  8. She’s Your Cocaine (3:42)
  9. Northern Lad (4:20)
  10. Hotel (5:19)
  11. Playboy Mommy (4:09)
  12. Pandora’s Aquarium (4:46)

Released by: Atlantic
Release date: 1998
Total running time: 54:12