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CD: Tori Amos - Night of Hunters | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Tori Amos - Night of Hunters

CD: Tori Amos - Night of Hunters

A complex but rewarding classically inclined song cycle from the restlessly inventive singer and songwriter

Tori Amos: Bach and Mussorgsky, initiation and reinvention

It’s been a while since Tori Amos did something as straightforward as writing a bunch of songs, recording them, and then releasing them as a CD. Her releases over the past decade or so have been, for instance, “themed” into horticultural compartments (The Beekeeper), or 12 cover versions of songs originally written by men but sung by Amos from the perspectives of 12 different female personae (Strange Little Girls).

Now comes Night of Hunters, a song cycle with solely orchestral and piano accompaniment, which tells the story of a woman at the fag-end of a relationship (already I can sense the buzz of excitement in the online Torisphere: is it autobiographical?) who goes through an initiation and reinvents herself. Oh, and each of the 14 songs is inspired by, or a variation on, a piece by a classical composer (Bach, Mendelssohn, Mussorgsky among them) from the past 400 years. To show how serious she is, it’s released on Deutsche Grammophon.

So if you’re looking for a reprise of the hollering, howling, piano-grinding Tori Amos from the era of From the Choirgirl Hotel, you’ll be disappointed. But if – and I suspect that this latter category will include many of Amos’s super-loyal fans – you like to be stretched a bit, this is the very thing. Kicking off with a killer first line in “Shattering Sea” – over menacing, thrummy piano and edgy, angular strings, she sings: “That’s not my blood on the bedroom floor” – this is an absorbing album that really deserves to be listened to in its entirety in one sitting, and whose pleasures – subtle, insinuating melodies; rich orchestral arrangements; Amos’s controlled but emotionally charged vocal delivery – unfold on each hearing.

There’s also terrific work from clarinettist Andreas Ottensamer, especially on “Seven Sisters”, burbling and dancing like a mountain stream. The mood is often tense, but there’s sweetness, too, while lyrically this must surely be the first album of popular music to employ the words “disempowerment” and “duality”. A complex, ambitious but rewarding piece of work.

Over menacing, thrummy piano and edgy, angular strings, she sings: “That’s not my blood on the bedroom floor”

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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