on 11 April 2007
Tori Amos was one of the most successful and significant singer-songwriters of the 1990s, and perhaps the finest female singer-songwriter since Joni Mitchell. However, her early albums, which were semi-confessional, bloodletting, emotional epics of intense drama have tended to cast her eternally as angst-ridden or fiery. Which makes subtle works like 2002's Scarlet's Walk and 2005's The Beekeeper appear less mesmeric at first, and also tends to see them wrongfully maligned.
Scarlet's Walk is perhaps Amos' songwriting masterpiece, a work of insight and spot-on poetry evoking American history and politics, with a smooth, '70s road-trip style soundtrack to match. The Beekeeper is its more sensual, sexy, and diverse sister, finding Amos in a slower, groovier mood than ever before. The histrionics and dark, semi-gothic epics are replaced in favour of songs positively dripping in sensuality and subtlety.
Melodically, it is one of Amos' strongest works, especially on such minor verse/major chorus delights as "Parasol," the soft, girlish "Martha's Foolish Ginger," and the delicately feminine "Jamaica Inn." A hallmark of this album is soft, tinkly piano melodies, intricately-woven high-pitched backing vocals, and more conventional song structures than before. Compared to her previous records, the production style - with vocals upfront, and subtle arrangements - is inviting but not necessarily as adventurous; still, when Tori Amos does "conventional," it's not quite conventional like other artists.
Elsewhere, she indulges a more diverse side than Scarlet's Walk displayed. "Sweet the Sting" is sexy Latin funk a la Santana, the "sha-na-na" oddity of "Ireland" has a strange reggae undercurrent, "Witness" is a cascading homage to '70s R&B/neo-funk with a surprising piano break, and "Mother Revolution" retains a jazzy rhythm without introducing traditionally jazz instruments. Only the urgently beautiful "Marys of the Sea" and the fierce if strained "Barons of Suburbia" recall her mid-'90s 'freakouts,' but there are two solo piano beauties as well - the closing "Toast," an ode to her recently-departed brother, and the show-stopping "Original Sinsuality," despite its pun-laden lyrics a spellbinding gem featuring one of her career-best codas.
Vocally, Amos is not in her ultimate best form but still manages well with the material. At times, her high-end vocal range sounds a little forced, but these songs have a soft femininity to which the vocal style suits. Amos herself described the album, which is wildly varied thematically (although she attempted to construct a concept based around the Gnostic gospels that restored Mary Magdalene), as "a perfume that wraps around you," and sonically that is very true.
The Beekeeper has been dismissed by many as too soft, too long, and not cohesive enough. True, some editing could have been advisable but this is a new subtle perspective to Amos' work and a welcome addition to her canon, which of course will be ever-growing in the years to come. It's not quite as intricate or complex as before, and the lyrics are far from her best, but it's by no means a poor or average album and even when Amos veers close to the mainstream, there's enough uniqueness and originality to remind us that she is in fact a world-class songwriter and a modern-day treasure.
on 7 February 2005
With an impressive back catalogue from 1992's exceptional debut 'Little Earthquakes', 1998's harrowing 'From The Choirgirl Hotel' and 2002's 'Scarlet's Walk', a sonic novel based upon a road trip across the whole of America, one comes to expect alot from Tori Amos.
Gladly she doesn't let us down with her latest offering, The Beekeeper.
With 19 tracks on offer, it may appear a daunting, epic album, but Tori cleverly divides the tracks into several 'gardens', all with different themes , which helps to make the track listing more digestible. Infact the garden theme of the album seems very apt, as every single track florishes and feels nurtured to perfection.
The melodies of the songs seem to be very strong indeed, and the themes adressed are as intelligent and poignant as ever, with issues of religion, betrayal, terrorism and women's role in society all being tackled with sensitivity and competance. All 19 tracks, from the rich, poetic drama of Parasol to the tear inducing Toast are beautifully composed and artistic, yet still accessible.
Tori varies her style alot on this album, from the sexy, Southern swagger of Sweet The Sting and the gospel tinged Witness, to the stark and haunting Original Sinsuality.
Other tracks of note include the atmospheric title track, addressing the looming death of a loved one, backed by soft electronica reminiscent of Suede from 1999's To Venus and Back, Mary's Of The Sea, a theatrical affair dealing with themes of the Magdalene and Christianity at dramatic pace becoming slowed down to an echoey contemplative chorus. Baron's Of Suburbia is another pacey track, climaxing in a chanting and piano score which have the makings of an unbelievable live experience.
The Power Of Orange Knickers features Damien Rice on accompanying vocals, creating a beautifully layered momentum similar to Past The Misson on 1994's Under The Pink. Other stand outs include the political General Joy and Mother Revolution and the beautiful Ribbons Undone.
The lyrics on the album are as poetic and intriguing as ever, and Tori's voice seems to get better with age, posessing beautiful richness on all 19 tracks.
The Beekeeper is a complete and lush album, with each song standing its own in an impressive discography, all with the potential to become classics. This record clearly shows that, 13 years on from her debut, Tori Amos still has plenty to say, and is still leading the way for contemporary alternative pop music. Intelligent, poignant and sexy, this record is a must buy that deserves alot of attention!
on 26 July 2005
I feel compelled to write a review of this album. I am a huge fan of Tori Amos, and when I bought this album I thought 'what the hell have you done, Tori?'. In short, i detested it, and only through forcing myself to listen to it literally non-stop after buying it, did I grow to realise how beautiful some of the album actually is.
Ireland and Cars and Guitars are unforgivable, and I still can't listen to them all the way through, accepting that there are now two Tori songs that I dislike! However, Mother Revolution, Original Sinsuality, The Power Of Orange Knickers and Marys Of The Sea make up for these duds, and there really is a lot here to sift through and love. The main problem here is the quantity of what she has recorded. If it were cut by about five songs, it really could have been up there with Pele and Choirgirl as the best of her career. Sadly, it's not, but it's a good album that shows she still has huge originality and skill.
on 3 March 2005
Here's something: An album that doesn't grab you the first time around, until you hear Witness. The rest of the album glides by and you wonder why you didn't like the songs prior to Witness. So you listen to it again and then you realise why The Beekeeper is the album Tori has released right now. I've been listening to this all week, alternating between it and another Tori album and back again.
Far from the AOR rubbish that the casual listener may dismiss it as, the striking thing about this album is how focussed it is. Every single detail is meticulously placed and the use of the B3 Hammond allows Tori's beautiful voice to be heard and fully appreciated. After all, when you have an organ, drums and a bass guitar, there's plenty of space for the voice. There is less piano than one might expect - it's certainly no Choirgirl, but the overall effect is breathtaking.
on 8 May 2005
Before this album, I hadn't really heard of Tori Amos (Her name was a house name, but I didn't really know any of her songs except "Silent all these years" and "Cornflake girl".) Amazon had reccomended her to me several times, because I had bought all of Heather Nova's cds. but finally, after a reccomendation from someone on the Liz Phair forum, I decided to buy this album.
I am so glad I did. I'm just upset that I haven't been with Tori for years. This album, in my opinion, is awesome. Some may find it a dissapointment but I haven't listened to much of her past work to know (Which is better for me, because if this is true, the Tori experience will get better and better.).
There is an imediancy in this album which tells you you'll love it. And I do. The best track is The beekeeper. Followed by Parasol, The power of orange knickers, Sweet the sting, Mother revolution, Toast and sleeps with Butterflies. (They are in no order.)
The entire album is extremely beautiful and I'm glad I bought it. I'm not going to put it down anytime soon.
To be honest much of what Tori says on the accompanying DVD interview is lost on me and I'm none the wiser as to what some of her motivation is from listening to her musings. But purely from listening to the album, this is frankly the most beautiful music she has ever composed. It's an album of quite simple but often breathtakingly gorgeous musical layers. It's Tori and it's not Tori. Unlike really anything she's done before, she seems to lay down a basic chord and then flow around it fluidly with the melody and piano/organ accompaniment. Much of the album has a light, airy and - god help me - happy feel to it, though still maintaining the trademark bite and edge when needed. It feels to me that Tori's finally found herself after the decade or so of angst and tension. I might be wrong, but then the thing with Tori's music is always how it affects you deep down, emotionally. And this definitely cuts the mustard for me. Thanks Tori for delivering the goods yet again!
on 2 August 2007
I've owned this album for a whole two days as I write this, and can already say with full confidence it will be a cherished album on my shelf, played often until it is scratched and worn out. This is the type of CD you fight over when going through a break-up. Although it is not as instantly striking as Scarlet's Walk, is an album full of songs that mix well together, but would equally do well as stand alone singles. Below are a few songs I think really stand out.
1. Parasol: This is a lovely sweet song, a perfect opener. I think it sets the tone of the album perfectly.
2. Sweet the Sting: Reminds me of a relationship. The type you know isn't right for you, but still feels good
3. The Power of Orange Knickers: When I first heard this, I didn't like it. However after a few plays I have begun to hear how well matched Tori and Damien's voices are on this lovely little song.
4. Jamaica Inn: I adore this song. I think it is so uplifting, and the music is incredibly unique.
6. Sleeps with Butterflies: Another favourite of mine. I think this song describes being in love perfectly. The real type of love where trust begins to kick in.
8. Mother Revolution: An wonderfully bitter sweet song that sounds like it belongs to Scarlet's Walk.
13. Ireland: A wonderful cheerful little song, with obviously Irish sounds to accompany it.
14. The Beekeeper: My absolute favourite from the album. I can't really put my finger on why, but I just think it's super.
17. Goodbye Pisces: A song which describe perfectly the feelings you shouldn't feel, but do, after a particularly sad break-up.
19. Toast: A beautiful song. Leaves you feeling slightly sad, yet also slightly happy at the same time. Incredibly touching.
sleeps with butterflies
martha's foolish ginger
the power of orange knickers
cars and guitars
when the beekeeper, tori's 9th album bulldozed its way into the uk top 20, i was elated. being a fan i was overjoyed at her commercial success. not that this matters to ms amos, but i was pleased that more people out there would discover her music...
although all or tori's albums are great pieces of work, for me the beekeeper is her best album since little earthquakes. at 19 songs long, you will be forgiven for thinking its going to be a drawn out affair, like boys for pele seemed, but the album flies by in style. 'parasol' is a great opener, followed by the r 'n' b tinged 'sweet the sting'. then comes the awesome duet with damien rice on the strangely titled 'the power of orange knickers'...a song that sounds like its going to be appaling, but instead gets into your head and stays there.
'cars and guitars' is another highlight, as tori uses metaphors from ahem..cars and guitars..to talk about sexually intimacy. my favourite tracks are 'sleeps with butterflies' and 'martha's foolish ginger' both of which showcase tori's remarkable vocal ability, on beautiful and poignant songs, which while still being true to her integrity, are accessible radio friendly love songs.
this album is strong enough to keep the fans happy, and to introduce new fans to an artist thats always been about the music
on 9 October 2009
The Beekeeper is Great album Tori Amos should be proud.
Listening to this beauty is an honest privilege; it is as delicate as a butterfly and as soft as a bumblebee's downy fur; it buzzes, lands and licks, sucking up and lapping at the raw emotional nectar of the listener...Magical! (This is the one resounding word to describe Tori Amos...MAGICAL, and this album is bursting with it).
Each of the songs is honey laced and bursts, explodes, oozes, drizzles and flows from the speakers sticking to the listener with heart-felt tear-jerking passion.
It feels like the sting has gone into the artist, and through the pain of the poison, expression is the final recovering relief; the result is music to our ears.
This review may sound poetic but that's honestly the only way I can describe Tori's work...she is `dramatic' and often in the subtlest ways.
If this is your first Tori album you will be glad you chose it... the three previous reviews above are honest and thorough, believe them, they are written with love and truth... the Beekeeper is terrific!
My favourites on the album are `SLEEPS WITH BUTTERFLIES' and `CARS AND GUITARS'
Thank You Tori Amos you are excellent! X
on 30 October 2005
I am considerably late in realising the musical significance of Tori Amos. I only became aware of her amazing, amazing talent this year and The Beekeeper is the album that opened the door for me.
Previously I had only looked at pop chart music but I was spurred to venture outside the square this year. Im so very glad I did!!
The Beekeeper is the perfect introduction to Tori for pop lovers. Its accessible and full of gorgeous, upbeat melodies!
I had to listen a couple of times to "get" some of the tracks, but I can say that once I did I was allowed access to a truly wonderful musical world, one that if you're willing will change your perception of music forever!
Standout tracks for me are:
"The Power of Orange Knickers" - A quirky yet beautiful song, starts off quite sedately but really comes into its own, with a catchy chorus
"Barons of Suburbia" - My favourite track! The use of the piano is stunning and the melody is beautiful. Yet theres something oddly defiant about it, especially at the end. Brilliant!
"Goodbye Pisces" - This track I liked immediately and remains one of my favourites. Tori's voice is dripping with honey (excuse the pun)!!!
"The Beekeeper" - Now this one, well its at odds with everything else on the album! However, this is not a bad thing, its so original and not like anything I had ever heard, again takes some getting used to but its brilliantly innovative once youve heard it a couple of times!
Other tracks worth a special mention include:
Parasol, Jamaica Inn, Sleeps with Butterflies, General Joy, Martha's Foolish Ginger, Mary's of the Sea and Toast - theyre all great too.
So as you can see I like most of the tracks, some old school Tori fans have dismissed this album but I can say this. After The Beekeeper I bought all of Tori's previous albums. I was thrilled to find I loved them all, but The Beekeeper still remains a firm friend. Buy it!!!!!