I love Tori, yet whenever she has a new album out it takes me a few goes to get what she's doing. This album was no exception. Some tracks caught me imediately (1000 Oceans), but after coming back to it again and again I finally 'got it'. I love music when it's easy to hear, automatically pleasing, but the best music is when it takes a while to get under your skin and permeate the layers of your consciousness. To Venus and Back is the work of a true genius. The piano hook on 'Lust' is so simple yet tremendous, the song written from the POV of Napoleon (strange but true folks) - Josephine - is a lyrical delight and heartbreaking with it. All of the songs are little pieces of the ever expanding universe that is Tori Amos.
The live cd is great listening, Cooling being my fave track and Sugar a close second. Tori's voice sounds slightly tired, but that adds an edge for me. The little spoken-to-the-crowd inserts are cool - she isn't an ordinary girl, is she?
To Venus and Back is an album that holds hidden treaures, and they are available for those brave enough to wade thru the miasma of 'quirky Tori' preconceptions and mourning for the days of Little Earthquakes to come back (it's never happening, dear). It will take you to places (venus perhaps?) you've long needed to go.. and who knows, you may never want to come back.