I’ve referred to Tori quite a few times in my previous posts, and with good reason. As much music as I like (2,534 songs on my mp3 player at last count), whenever someone asks me for my favorite singer, my answer doesn’t stray from “Tori Amos.”
Listening to “Little Earthquakes” (could it really be back in 1992?) was absolutely cathartic for me. I was a miserable high student with no real friends caught up in a world of “teen angst bullshit” (to quote Winona Ryder in Heathers) consisting of pimples, loneliness, and the whole oh-shit-I’m-different-what-now reckoning. Not a happy time, it’s safe to say. Tori of course had demons of her own, and Little Earthquakes was all about going through them and making it over to the other side. I needed to know that it would be possible, and Tori told me that yes, it would.
Tori’s musical output in the 90’s was simply astounding. Under the Pink, Boys For Pele, and (my personal favorite) From a Choirgirl Hotel, not to mention the legion of b-sides and live bootlegs, remain bonafide classics (I promise to talk about them more in depth in a future post). Tori proved herself far more than a piano-twinkling balladeer, taking on everything from rock, electronica, techno, and ragtime to wondrous results.
Predictably, the momentum slowed after that. To Venus And Back had some great moments (“Concertina,” “1000 Oceans”) but also showed signs that Tori was becoming, using Simon Cowell’s favorite word, “indulgent.” Strange Little Girls, the follow-up cover album, found Tori caught up, confused, and confined by her own concepts.
Tori returned to brilliance with Scarlet’s Walk. I didn’t concern myself with the road trip concept and just concentrated on the beautiful songs (particularly “A Sorta Fairytale,” “Taxi Ride,” and “Gold Dust”). The mellow “A Sorta Fairytale” became a big (by Tori standards) radio hit, and apparently, it convinced Tori to become even sweeter and softer on her next album. It proved to be a disaster. Robbed of her fangs and nails, the Beekeeper was just a mess all around (with “Goodbye Pisces” its only saving grace).
With that epic failure behind her, Tori tried to bring back the fire and brimstones on the American Doll Posse. It’s definitely a mixed result. There are good songs for sure (particularly “Digital Ghost” and “Smokey Joe”), but they almost get lost among all the other songs, a lot of which either sound similar or just don’t do much. Tori needs an editor BAD.
In only a month or so, Tori will be releasing her next attempt at reclaiming glory, Abnormally Attracted To Sin. Despite an undeniable slide in Tori quality in the last several years (along with the stranger-by-the-minute enunciations, the wigs, and the aforementioned inability to edit herself), I can’t help but still get excited over a new Tori album. It’s the least I can do, really. After all, she helped me get over my teen angst bullshit, guiding me over to the other side.
*Here’s the video for her first single, “Welcome To England.” The video isn’t much (a stoned-looking Tori wandering through London), but don’t let it distract you from the song, which definitely grows on you upon repeated listens.
**EDIT: The video isn’t allowed to be posted, which I fully respect. So instead, here’s Tori with an absolute killer version of “Operator” dedicated to her late brother.