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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Record Reviews > Tori Amos

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Tori Amos-The Beekeeper (Epic)

Tori Amos is a very respected singer and songwriter, however in the thirteen years since her solo debut she has become a little pigeon-holed by her own distinctive style.  It may seem unfair to take the fact that Amos is extraordinarily talented in creating ethereal piano ballads as a negative, however a certain section of the listening public has taken sort of a been-there, done-that attitude to some of her more recent albums.  Not that Amos was not aware of that and trying to branch out in different directions from the electronica of To Venus and Back to the faux-rock of some of the covers on Strange Little Girls like "Heart of Gold."  Amos returned to what she does best on her last album Scarlet's Walk it was a sonic novel that flittered upon different styles but was couched in the familiar songcraft that has been her stock in trade.

So it is nice to report that while The Beekeeper keeps its eyes on Amos' strengths, it may be her most diverse recording so far, and yet her musical side trips seem organic.  It is also her most accessible album ever and one of her best.  The first single, "Sleeps With Butterflies," signals the musical changes.  It is a simply gorgeous pop tune that is spiced with her other-worldly vocals.  "Sweet the Sting" has a charming bossa nova vibe which suits Amos' sultry vocals surprisingly well.  In "Witness," Amos sounds dare I say it? funky, which is not an adjective that often is trotted out for her.  "The Power of Orange Knickers" with guest vocalist Damien Rice starts off with a surprisingly simple sing-song nature before the instrumentation, vocals and production become more and more complex. 

The dramatic structure of "Ribbons Undone" give it the feeling of an abnormally savvy Broadway show tune.  "Cars and Guitars" has a sweet country swoon that is frankly sabotaged by Amos' sometimes-affected vocal, which distracts from the tune.  The traditional sweet gothic tinklings for which Amos is known for are represented in songs like the lovely "Original Sinsuality" and "General Joy." 

The Beekeeper is a nice little reminder that Tori Amos can still surprise us.  (3/05)

Jay S. Jacobs

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Tori Amos-Boys For Pele (Atlantic)

Amos’ third album is her most commercial effort yet, which is not necessarily to say her best. Boys For Pele (named after an ancient God, not the South American Soccer star) is a good album, but like her second album, Under The Pink, it toils mightily under the shadows of her incredible debut album, Little Earthquakes.

It’s not fair to expect all of her work to live up to that apex, so let’s discuss the new one on its own merits, shall we? Musically and vocally the album is very strong. Amos makes the most of her compositions like the medley “Beauty Queen/Horses” with downshifts from an astringent intro into a soothing ballad. “Blood Roses” rides on a piano line that almost sounds like it is played on a harpsichord or organ. The rocker “Caught A Lite Sneeze” will be Amos’ biggest hit yet, fitting perfectly with the AAA format. Despite a few slow patches on Boys To Pele, Amos is still a talent to be reckoned with. (5/96)

Jay S. Jacobs

Tori Amos-From The Choirgirl Hotel (Atlantic)

After three albums of diminishing returns on her girl and her piano albums, Amos has finally put together a whole band to support her throughout her latest. Though she still falls short of the dizzying heights of her Little Earthquakes debut, the latest album does have a new spark of light that has been sadly missing from Amos' last two albums.

It starts off a little weakly, honestly, with the unadventurous single "Spark" about a woman who is addicted to nicotine. Things come together pretty nicely after this, though. The vaguely dance oriented "Cruel" and the poppy "Playboy Mommy" show Amos to be willing to fool around. Even songs like "Pandora's Aquarium," which would have fit in well on earlier albums, benefits from more pronounced backing. While not as good as her debut, this is the best album Amos has done since. (6/98)

Jay S. Jacobs

 

Tori Amos-Under the Pink (Atlantic)

The second album is a notorious acid test in the music business. Once an artist has caught the fancy of a fickle public, the question is always, can they hold on?  Can they still entrance people once the original shock of recognition has passed? Under the Pink suffers from a problem to which many sophomore discs fall prey. It is a very good album, full of interesting ideas and fine singing, but the problem is it doesn't quite catch that certain je ne sais quoi that made Amos' debut, Little Earthquakes so effective.

Amos toys around stylistically on the new disc.  "Past the Mission" sports a reggae backbeat.  The first single, "God," has a touch of industrial thud in the production. "Cornflake Girl" is pop, or at least as close to pop as Amos is ever going to get.  Amos doesn't abandon her strengths, though, which show up on the melancholy ballad "Pretty Good Year" and the ode to innocence "Baker Baker."

The songwriting and performances on Under the Pink are uniformly good, and Amos sounds very well-adjusted to life and fame. Still, there is nothing on Under the Pink as immediately shocking as "Me And A Gun" or as pastorally soothing as "Winter" from the debut. It's unfair to hold heightened expectations against this album, which is strong. Under the Pink charts the maturation and psychological growth of Tori Amos.  Too bad she was more interesting when she was neurotic.  (2/94)

Jay S. Jacobs