on 2 November 2005
The summary pretty much sums it up. This is just such a brilliant album! It is a hard choice for a Tori fan like myself to decide but I think Scarlets Walk is Tori's best album.
To start (and to rant a little) I think it is a scandal that "A Sorta Fairytale" didnt achieve a number 1 position, or any position in the charts (well within the UK where Im originally from anyway). Not only is it such a catchy accessible tune, it is terrible that more people have not heard its beauty. The only reason I did was because I made a conscious decision to look outside the pop square for music...
Anyway rant over, A Sorta Fairytale is one of many great songs on this album.
To give the uninitiated an idea this is very accessible music. Tori mixes a lovely sweet vocal and soft instrumental backdrop with her trademark piano to produce an album full of growers that sweep you off your feet with their sheer gorgeousness!
Hard to give favourites but for me standout tracks include the emotive "I cant see New York" about 9/11 and apparently written BEFORE it happened which is pretty amazing when you listen to the lyrics; "A Sorta Fairytale" which Ive already had a rant about but is a beautiful piano led piece and very catchy even on first listen; "Taxi Ride" which admittedly is similar in some ways to A Sorta Fairytale but still warrants many many listens; "Virginia" which is a grower but I always want to sing along to, actually, damn it you really need to buy this album most of the songs are great!!!
on 26 November 2002
The last few weeks as I have been driving around America I have been listening to this album and finding it pleasantly quirky - echos of Kate Bush in places ("I can't see New York" in particular). Much more enjoyable than the samples I have listened to before, I've not been a fan. Her diction is pretty curious though and I'd not been able to dig into the words very much, and her web site had few insights. As I've explored the lyrics, I have gradually realised there's more going on than meets the eye. The reviewer at Rolling Stone doesn't get it - clearly didn't have time to dig. He's missed the spiritual unity of the album, listening only to the melodies. But one of the comments to his review has caught the drift: "This CD contains the most intelligent, complicated, subtle, and artistic post-9/11 reflection on America that I have encountered."
Returning to the lyrics with that insight, suddenly the layers underneath the widely-reviewed obvious clicked into focus and it's all there - the confused ghostly voice in 'I can't see New York', lost friends and innocence in 'gold dust', and more. An interview on VH-1 (see my weblog for links to external sources) gave more pointers - even the porn star "Amber Waves" is a metaphor for the fallen grace of the nation. If all you hear is the single ("a sorta fairytale" - which has a firefly glimmer to it) you may think it's a loved-and-lost album like the other reviewers.
As I listen I am caught up more and more in the album - an exploration of the spirit of the nation of America, of the emotions and experiences following September 11, 2001. This is the first work to come out of that event that leaves me with insight into the people and the place rather than with a sense of a person scrabbling to build a response and coming up instead with misplaced patriotism or a warmongering rage. Listen carefully to "Scarlet's Walk" and in amongst the strangeness you may hear, as I have, the outline of a soul's response to 9/11.
on 6 February 2003
If Under the Pink marked the end of the heroic phase of Tori Amos’s career and To Venus and Back marked the nadir of her experimentalist phase (which was perfected on Choirgirl) then Scarlett’s Walk is a welcome return to form. This is in many ways her most coherent and consistent, if not most satisfying, album to date. It is in many ways the sound of maturity, she is perhaps less winsome then before and her arrangements are her more orthodox and less distinctive then before but when she hits her stride it is in her own inimitable style.
The vocals are surprising low in the mix which although effective in many ways means that many of the songs sound more similar then perhaps they might. Likewise at eighteen tracks this album is too long and while there is nothing bad here a little cull might have allowed the better songs to shine that bit brighter.
The concept, a walk across a post 9/11 America, actually works surprisingly well perhaps because it is quite muted and never gets in the way of the music. There is a lot that is contemplative here but little of the angry rawness or just plain strangeness that characterised her earlier outings. But then she’s older now and seems basically happy and seems comfortable with that, which is all to the good.
And then there’s Gold Dust, which closes the album, about the birth of her daughter and proves that she can still do personal. This is quite simply beautiful and is the most classical she has ever gone. Sounds almost like Shostakovitch in places. The vocals do not simply mirror the melody but form an intricate part of the music in their own right, now prominent and dominant now subsumed by the piano and string arrangements that echo her earliest work. The song is utterly original and totally timeless. Like a lot of classical composition its appeal is not immediate, its not very hummable, but it has lasting beauty. Genius.
on 11 April 2007
Tori Amos' Sony/Epic debut, Scarlet's Walk, was released in 2002 to mostly positive reaction from critics but muted response from many fans. Where were the semi-gothic piano epics? Where were the impassioned vocals? Where was the sonic diversity? But, as with the best albums, it has matured like a fine wine and is held in high regard today by the Amos fan community that has recognised its subtle, intricate delights.
Motherhood has calmed Amos here (daughter Tash born in 2000) and given her a new perspective. Where previous albums tended to look inward for inspiration, Amos now becomes more of an observational songwriter and the impact of 9/11 caused her to think about America and its history. Tapping into her own Native American roots, Amos sculpted a towering masterpiece of poetic imagery and songcraft, drawing on the wells of American history and politics. Scarlet's Walk is like a travelogue, and loosely follows the protagonist, Scarlet, across the United States on a road trip.
Musically and lyrically, Amos attempts to evoke the place Scarlet is supposed to be in - the desert setting of "Don't Make Me Come to Vegas" features a slow, sensual rhythm and Mexican-style percussion; the Floridian summerscape of "Another Girl's Paradise" is sensual and summery, with images of groves and oranges; "Virginia" references the state with its folk-style dobro and twisting piano melody. But even if the listener doesn't follow Scarlet's journey (and the lyrics don't make reference to any particular character or any particular event - i.e. the story of Native American plight in "Scarlet's Walk" is evoked rather than stated, and the 9/11 catastrophe in the intense epic "I Can't See New York" is not clearly mentioned), the album is an intricately-woven gem.
The hallmark is soft, subtle, '70s-style arrangements akin to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, with meticulously-crafted melodies that come off as effortless; vocally, Amos sings in a natural range, lending the material an earthy tone, and a hallmark is to finish each song on a lingering a cappella note. What was once mistaken for blandness or repetitiveness is actually narrative continuity. But that doesn't mean each song is the same - far from it.
The ballads here are alternately heart-wrenchingly sad ("Strange"), plaintive (the simple "Your Cloud"), majestic ("Scarlet's Walk"), or opulent and grand ("Gold Dust"), and the harder-edged material is among Amos' best, with subtly fiery tunes like "Sweet Sangria" and "Pancake" ensuring that this album retains a musical diversity. There are also some superb new experiments, like the country shuffle of "Wednesday," the Mexican rhythms in "Vegas," and the chamberlain flute in "Mrs. Jesus." There's also more of a melodic, hook-laden pop sound on show, especially on such superb examples of songcraft as "Amber Waves," "A Sorta Fairytale," and "Taxi Ride." Vocally, she's in fine form, especially on the likes of "I Can't See New York" and the orgasmic coda to "Virginia."
One of the most significant artistic contributions of her career, Scarlet's Walk is Tori Amos' ultimate conceptual realisation. She has been more sonically and musically adventurous, but musical diversity and experimentation was not in service to these songs, which have a classic, nostalgic '70s feel in their arrangements and superbly executed chord progressions. It's a majestic work, and one of Amos' best. Here, she proves that you don't need to wail your way through a song or sing provocative lyrics to have a deep, resonant impact.
on 6 November 2002
This is the special edition of Scarlett's Walk. For a little more you get a DVD with two videos including A Sorta Fairytale, which is very quirky and grainy, but really interesting nevertheless and a photo gallery. Also included is a fold-out map, showing (I think) where the songs were composed on a journey around America - it adds a lot more dimension to the album. Also included are a couple of polaroid photos from the same shoot as the video.
I've been more and more worried about Tori since her last two albums seemed to miss the mark a little, overcome by electronics and increasingly depressing, but with Scarlett's Walk Tori is a lot more cheerful. It almost seems like signing to Epic has freed her creativity, and I'm glad to say this album is packed with great songs. At 74 minutes long, you'll probably have to listen to the whole thing several times before you start taking it all in.
My favourite tracks so far include the outstanding "a sorta fairytale" (why was this not a hit in the UK???), Wednesday (which is musically similar to Happy Phantom), Crazy: a suitably melancholy track, Your Cloud and Can't See New York.
Tori, truly an outstanding album. Welcome back.
on 17 August 2005
I onlycame fully aware of Tori at the start of this year (which is terrible but better late than never). I was bored one day and Tori Amos: Behind The Music came on TV so i thought i'd just watch it by the end of the show i was ready to go buy her CD's. Tori's 7th studio album Scarlet's Walk takes the title from the road trip she took around the U.S just after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It's and album of self discovery its a really beautiful album i instantly fell in love with it
1.Amber Waves - I didn't really know what this song was about, but now i no its a tale about a reformed porn star i found it kinda funny to listen to but its actually a really nice song beautifully melodic with a nice piano loop and she keeps her voice down to a bare minimum almost seeming shy great opener! 10/10
2.A Sorta Fairytale - This was the first official song that introduced me to Tori its got a sorta Jewel/Natalie Imbruglia sound to me its quite a boho chick song this is easily the most accessable track on the album has a commercial sound not that its a bad thing its a nice catchy song 10/10
3.Wednesday - Seems like it was left off "Boys For Pele" (that album was all over the place!) The song i still don't what this song is about but i like it its really catchy and makes u tap your foot 8/10
4.Strange - Quite dark and depressing has a really sad feel to it maybe about a lost love her piano playing and the string arrangement makes this song great 9/10
5.Carbon - One of my favourite songs on the album she can make that piano sing! the lyrics arent quite impressive as well a very well written song i like the line "Keep you eyes on her horizon" an inspirational notion maybe? 10/10
6.Crazy - The wailing at the start put me off for a while i did give the song a chance enventually it's not as bad as i thought it was but it's still not my favourite song its very Enya sounding 6/10
7.Wampum Prayer - I thought she was singing in native american at first but shes not shes singing about them its a very short song but its very complex considering how short it is 8/10
8.Don't Make Me Come To Vegas - This song is very funny t seems to me shes found out he man is cheatin on her and shes threatening the woman hes with that she'll come get her,she has such a good way with words 8/10
9.Sweet Sangria - The beat is good but i just dont like the lyrics its my least favourite song on the album 3/10
10.Your Cloud - Fluffy and really beautiful the nice piano melody makes this song one of the best on the album 10/10
11.Pancake - Strange title for a song it's the only song that feels out of place but in a good way (if u know what i mean)not really sure what shes actually singing about but i like it 9/10
12.I Can't See New York - This is and epic tribute to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 the heart breaking lyrics and the echoes make this song atmospheric, it has alot of layers which gradually build up into a sweeping dramatic close and 7mins it just don't seem long enough by far the best song... maybe the best song shes evert written? 10/10
13.Mrs Jesus - After #13 u kinda wish the album ended then but this song is nice but its a big jump from the controversey of #13 to this just didnt seem any sense to put this song after it i do like this song though could have been a bit longer 9/10
14.Taxi Ride - Alot of people link this song with "A Sorta Fairytale" and they are right to, its very Alanis lyrically doesn't really grab me but just let the song run its a nice song to chill to 8/10
15.Another Girl's Paradise - A favourite of mine classic Tori (by my knowlege of her anyway) 10/10
16.Scarlet's Walk - This is a very haunting title track No wonder Tori named the entire CD after this one 9/10
17.Virginia - A great song, I don't know how to describe this one. Listen and see for yourself 9/10
18.Gold Dust - The perfect closing track, i didn't like it at first i thought it was too corny and bland but its a nice song to close the album 8/10
1.I Can't See New York
3.A Sorta Fairytale
4.Another Girl's Paradise
5.Your Cloud/Amber Waves
This album is very beautiful i suggest if u dont have it go get it even just for I Can't See New York
on 19 November 2002
Scarlet's Walk is far, far better than I ever hoped it would be. By turns haunting, provocative, poignant and mesmerising, the arrangements and the vocals are smooth and the lyrics, whilst at first glance nominally less opaque than those on recent of albums (especially To Venus and Back), still typically retain layers of meaning with their use of metaphor. It's an album of standout tracks, but those that linger in the ears and the mind the longest are the Pink Floyd-esque, emotionally-wrenching story of a girl on a plane who will never reach New York, "I Can't See New York", the vocally-layered, haunting Carbon, the upbeat, gliding, yet sorrowful Taxi Ride, the beautifully melodic "story-of-Pochohontas-as-America-metaphor", Virginia, and the string-orchestra enhanced Gold Dust. This is the work of an true artist at the height of her powers. It hasn't been off my stereo since I bought it. Buy it, and buy her entire back catalogue too, whilst you're there. You will not regret it.
on 6 November 2002
Compared to the last few albums, the sound of Scarlet's Walk is more conventional, the production less self-consciously strange. A long album, on first play it has a particular mood, but with each listen the tracks begin to separate and take on their own identities.
I find this album takes less 'work' to listen to than previous offerings - whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends on what you like. It's a fairly easy listen, but there's enough humour (Amber Waves), interesting arrangements (Mrs Jesus) and time changes (Carbon) to keep your ears on their toes. Rather than striving to challenge conventions, it seems that Ms Amos' aim was to put together a collection of very strong songs . These will get inside your brain and keep you humming, though the closing 'Gold Dust' is completely silencing.
As someone who above all likes melody in his music, I liked 'Little Earthquakes', and 'Under The Pink' definitely grew on me. 'Cornflake Girl' was great fun, the epic nature of 'Yes Anastasia' still appeals to me. At times though I felt Tori went on a bit too long, some of her tracks were a bit too similar.
After 'Under The Pink', I confess I didn't really understand where Tori went. 'Boys For Pele', 'From The Choirgirl Hotel', never really made sense to me. I just couldn't relate to the melodies, there were no standout tunes for me. Normally I like one or two tracks from the start, and then the rest of the album grows on me. I never found those one or two tracks on those albums. Reading the user reviews, I understand those albums struck a chord with many people. One of my best friends rates them as good as anything else in his collection. But speaking for myself, I gave them to a charity shop.
'To Venus and Back' seemed to be moving closer to what I was looking for, but didn't really blow me away. I'd more or less given up on Tori at this stage, three albums in a row you don't like is enough to tax anyone's loyalty. But then I read the reviews for 'Scarlet's Walk', that it was closer to her earlier sound, and decided it had to be worth a try, even if I was coming to it a year late.
I'm glad I did. I can honestly say 'Scarlet's Walk' is one of the best albums I've heard in the last twelve months, it might make it into my top ten of all time if I were compiling the list tomorrow.
The tunes are back; 'Amber Waves' and 'Sorta Fairytale' are as catchy as you like, personally I can listen to them time and again and not get tired of them, and have, in the last couple of months. I generally think any album over fifty minutes would be better if it were at least ten minutes shorter. I can only think of two examples in my record collection over 60 minutes which I think are good at that length. This album is 73 minutes long, and I honestly don't notice the time passing. There isn't a single track on it which I think is out of place.
The piano-playing is rarely virtuoso, after the initial two tracks there are few truly knockout tunes. But the song writing has reached another level of skill and ability; to be able to keep the listener's interest for such a long period is an incredible achievement. There is a story here, which perhaps helps Tori keep things together, although I will confess I haven't completely puzzled it out yet (as tends to be the case with Tori's lyrics). 'Scarlet's Walk' seems to be through every state of the US, with a certain amount of heartbreak and such along the way. After the first two tracks I particularly like 'Wampum Prayer', 'Sweet Sangria' and 'I Can't See New York', but there isn't a track on the album which feels out of place for me.
The Kate Bush comparisons have tended to fall away as Tori has established herself as an artist in her own right, and probably a rather more important one at the moment, given that Kate hasn't released an album in goodness knows how many years. There are occasional moments here though that remind me of 'The Hounds of Love', but that can only be a good thing. Buy this album if you liked Tori's earlier work, and are curious to see where ten years of development in songwriting has taken her. If your taste is anything like mine, prepare to be blown away.
on 6 November 2002
Tori Amos fans have varying views on her more recent albums- 'From the Choirgirl Hotel, 'To Venus & back' and 'Strange Little Girls'. I am firmly in the camp that thinks they're okay- but wishes she would get back to beautiful songs, without the harsh, wierd noises and wailing.
This is a wonderful return to what I think Tori does best. Quirky tunes, piano arpeggios which trickle and then soar, taking the listener with them. Haunting melodies that stay with you for hours.
The single, Sorta Fairytale is good, but a little bland compared to much of the rest of the album. Its not instant, first listen stuff- but give tracks like 'Wednesday and 'I Can't See New York' a bit of time on your CD player, and you will be captivated.
This is probably more accesible than Choirgirl and Venus. If anything it reminds me of the heady days of 'Under the Pink'- but this time there is more production. Drums, bass and guitars complement Tori's trademark Bosendorfer piano without swamping it.