Tori Amos – Scarlet’s Walk

Tori Amos - Scarlet's WalkInspired by the unusually candid post-September 11th confessions of fans she met on tour in late 2001, Scarlet’s Walk is Tori Amos’ return to form after the misstep that was Strange Little Girls, as well as her debut on her first new label since 1988. Scarlet’s Walk gets Tori back to the basics of Little Earthquakes and Under The Pink, ditching the club music elements that dominated her later output on Atlantic. Whether this was her decision or Epic’s call, it doesn’t matter – it was long overdue, and reminds me of what first drew me to her music ten years ago in the first place.

That’s not to say that we’re back to the mostly-piano formula of Little Earthquakes, however – Tori spends much of Scarlet’s Walk backed by a full band, with a few obligatory piano ballads thrown in and even an a capella tune (“Wampum Prayer”) for good measure. But the earnestness of her first two albums returns here, and that’s the “element of the past” that I most cherish about this album. At the risk of offending the dance music fans – and I have to admit, I like Tori’s latter-day clubbish numbers like “Raspberry Swirl” and I’ve broadened my palette and grown fond of quite a few other beat-heavy acts in recent years – sometimes that approach didn’t suit Tori Amos with her confessional, introspective style of storytelling-songwriting. The lead single from Scarlet’s Walk, “A Sorta Fairytale”, points up the difference sharply: there’s still a band backing Tori, but her piano and vocals aren’t having to fight for a spot in the mix. It’s a pleasing alternate-rock brew that supports her instead of working against her.

Other standout tracks include “Amber Waves”, “Crazy” (which may actually be my favorite cut off of the entire CD, rediscovering another element of Tori’s early work, namely the mesmerizing sound of Tori harmonizing with her own vocals), “Taxi Ride”, “Strange”, “Pancake” and the curiously jaunty “Wednesday”. There are a few tracks that don’t quite trip my trigger – I expected a little more out of “I Can’t See New York”, for example, but rating: 4 out of 4I actually do like it – but on a whole, this album is a cohesive collection that stands well alongside Little Earthquakes and Under The Pink – and stands way, way above such recent efforts as Strange Little Girls and the studio disc from To Venus And Back. It doesn’t hide a nasty stain, and it’s not just lying there – Scarlet’s Walk proclaims that Tori Amos has returned.

Order this CD

  1. Amber Waves (3:39)
  2. A Sorta Fairytale (5:30)
  3. Wednesday (2:30)
  4. Strange (3:07)
  5. Carbon (4:36)
  6. Crazy (4:27)
  7. Wampum Prayer (0:45)
  8. Don’t Make Me Come To Vegas (4:52)
  9. Sweet Sangria (4:03)
  10. Your Cloud (4:30)
  11. Pancake (3:56)
  12. I Can’t See New York (7:16)
  13. Mrs. Jesus (3:07)
  14. Taxi Ride (4:02)
  15. Another Girl’s Paradise (3:36)
  16. Scarlet’s Walk (4:18)
  17. Virginia (3:56)
  18. Gold Dust (5:57)

Released by: Epic
Release date: 2002
Total running time: 74:09