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
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
RETURN TO RECORD
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Revised: March 11, 2017.
-Boys For PeleTori Amos
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,
Its not fair to expect all of her work to live up
to that apex, so lets 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
The Choirgirl Hotel Tori Amos-(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
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.
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