Ok, so I doubt anyone really cares what I think about Tori's new album. I'm mainly doing this for my own entertainment.
Over all, I really like this album. It has a clean, polished sound that has carried over from her previous album The American Doll Posse. I personally love to see artists evolve and try different things. There are still hints of vintage Tori on this album. Her lyrics are still amazing, complex, and quirky. Some critics have said they prefer her old sound that was more personal and acoustic. But I really like the direction she's taken her sound.
I will break it down by track.
1. Give: It has a dark sound that is one of the reasons I really love Tori Amos.
2. Welcome to England: This was the first track I heard from the album before it was released. I love it. It recalls Scarlet's Walk with its electric guitar and the feel of it. I think this is one of the highlights of the album.
3. Strong Black Vine: There is an ongoing theme in this album of religion and even going further beyond into personal choice and our ability to choose for ourselves the path we will take. In this song it seems Tori is mocking the idea of organized religion, but I think she is mostly talking about having a personal faith whether you find it in a church or in the mountains. I could be very wrong about this. I love, love, love the intro to this song with the orchestra. Beautiful. I'm still trying to figure out what the "Strong, black vine" is.
4. Flavor: She slows the mood down here a lot. It has an ethereal feel to it that is signature Tori. This has the same feel and direction of ADP.
5. Not Dying Today: Love the drums in this. This is more upbeat and has a great message to it. A lot the songs in this album has multiple dialogue within it which brings an interesting flavor to it. "music, good friends, I'm not dying today." Live in the present. Don't worry about the future day when your life will end. I love the end when she says "Dyin' Fryin' rather have a lie-in..." It's quirky Tori at her best.
6. Maybe California: Vintage Tori Amos ballad. It is absolutely beautiful. She croons with the piano in the foreground. This one stands out in my mind from the rest of the album simply because of the beautiful lyrics and the tune. This is a very sad song though. That is one thing I love about Tori. Her ability to pull out these strong emotions in her music to make you feel what she's talking about. Even if you don't always understand the lyrics, you can feel the meaning.
7. Curtain Call: This song reminds me of ADP. There is a song on that album where Tori goes from the low range and to an incredibly high range in the background. It creates a haunting and surreal feeling to the music. I love the buildup to the chorus. It has a delicious tensity to it.
8. Fire to Your Plain: This was the second song I heard from this album before it was released. I love that there is double meaning in the title. Plain can be read as the rolling plains of the midwest. Or it can be read as the opposite of eccentric and flashy. One meaning is more literal while the other is figurative. I really like the figurative reading of it. This woman sets fire to the plainness of this man's life/world. In such a reading, this song could be thought of as a love song. But then...if she's setting fire to his plain...then she is also destroying it. Such depth is what I love about Tori. You just can't find such literary beauty in very many artists today.
9. Police Me: Speaking of double meanings. Police...to regulate or keep in order...If said fast (as Tori does back and forth) it sounds more like Please...for pleasure, gratify. I tend to think this was purposely done. That being said...with the Please double reading it gives it more of a sexual theme. That's all I will say about that.
10. That Guy: This has a classic sound to it. It almost sounds like she's singing through a filter to make it sound older. Love it.
11. Abnormally Attracted to Sin: This is a return to the religious theme that pops up a lot in Tori's music. Her dad is a preacher so it makes sense that she would hit this topic. In this song she seems to be degrading the idea that you have to be perfect to attend church. We're all human and each of us have attractions to sins. She seems to be saying that religion says that this is an abnormal thing and if you have inclinations to sin...don't even bother coming to church. I think if you take Tori's music at face value you will be offended. But if you understand that she likes to point fingers at bad logic and things that happen in our world, you will find that she is not condoning these things. She is making a statement. I love the groove of this song that is at once haunting and moving.
12. 500 Miles: I really like the movement of this song. It feels like we're walking. Again, the religious theme comes forth. She talks about breaking bread in lovers communion.
13. Mary Jane: This song is quirky and quite funny. It's a conversation between a mother and a son. The son wants to get high but he tells his seemingly naive mother that he wants to have a close relationship with "Mary Jane." Part of me thinks that the mother is high too. HA!
14. Starling: The intro to this track is interesting and has a dark, archaic feel to it. I love the references to birds throughout the whole song. "He screams in black and white just like the magpie." Or, "I woke not to a lonely lark, but to a raven's cry." And the beautiful "If a feather lined with his words becomes a blade." I love the play on words throughout.
15. Fast Horse: I love the tune to this song. It feels like a Native American chant in a way.
16. Ophelia: Love the allusion to Shakespeare's tragic character Ophelia in Hamlet. There are more allusions I know but I have yet to figure them out. When I heard this song I thought of the Ophelia Syndrome in which people let others control their lives.
17. Lady in Blue: This hearkens to Tori's Under the Pink days. It just feels like something that would be on that album. It is just purely haunting.
Tori Amos has not disappointed in the least with this new release. If nothing else, she has made me an even bigger fan. Take a gander. I would highly recommend Tori to anyone although I will warn you...she is an acquired taste.
Jake Taylor graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a Bachelor of Arts degree in professional writing. He is the author of The Tales of the Unluckiest Lucky Girl series. He is also an avid reader, traveler, movie-watcher, and music lover. He currently serves in the US Navy and is stationed in San Diego, CA.