Tori Amos is an amazing artist, full stop. While she will probably never be mainstream (that is not a bad thing) she undoubtedly is one of the most talented artists of our time. Of course, as an EWF, I am biased!
TO VENUS AND BACK, Tori offers us a different sound to her previous albums. Here, the music could be described more as electronica in parts, yet she is still able to make it her very own style and sound. As with many, if not all of her albums, you will probably have to listen to this offering a few times before you are able to fully appreciate the complexity and the sense of it. For me, the one track that did instantly stand out from the others was "1000 oceans". It is a truly beautiful ballad and perhaps the most accessible song from the entire collection. Other favourites of mine include "Suede", which has some of the most strange music I have ever heard - it is hard to describe this song. I also like "Lust", which again is another beautiful ballad. "Datura" is also another song to make my favourite list. Datura is a plant which has hallucinatory properties, but the wrong amount can be fatal. In the most recent biography on Tori, she is quoted as saying that the song compares this plant to men, that they can "sometimes [...] bring you gold and sometimes they can be the bearer of poison. . . If you get the right amount, you'll walk into the garden and become a woman, but if too much seeps in the wrong way and at the wrong time, it'll kill you" ("Pretty Good Years: A Biography of Tori Amos" by Jay S. Jacobs).
Next, I have to also comment on the live disc which is included. This is a great asset to have. When I first bought this album, I had never seen Tori perform live so it was a cherished item. She is great to see, if you get the chance you really should see her. The live disc has songs from her solo debut, LITTLE EARTHQUAKES. What you will discover is that she does not simply recreate these previous songs; rather she revisits them, making changes here and there, maybe emphasizing a different word or sound, maybe leaving some sections out. To me, this shows her creativity, making her music a more fluid experience than something that is merely set in stone and turned out to a particular recipe. I recently saw her on tour for her AMAERICAN DOLL POSSE album where she performed "Precious Things". This appears on the live album here, but it sounds very different to how she performed it recently. As others have said, the performance of "Cooling" is brilliant. Almost worth all the money just for that. For this song, all the other band members do not make an appearance, it is just Tori and her piano. Absolute heaven - "...is your place in heaven worth giving up these kisses" (Tori Amos, Cooling).
An amazing release. Two discs for the price of one. What are you waiting for?
Tori's fourth album which was recorded at the height of her creative powers and contains so much excellent material it was released as a double album, one disc of studio tracks and one disc of rare live material. An unreserved, five star purchase. Simply Superb.
It doesn't seem that long ago since Tori Amos's last album FROM THE CHOIR GIRL HOTEL was a permanent fixture in my CD player, but now here we are again with her new album. Anyone who has ever sat and listened to Tori Amos will know that she isn't an easy artist to pigeonhole - part angst queen, part rock chick, part pop babe. Amos is all these things and more and this album shows all these quality and then some. As well as not being easy to pigeonhole, Amos also isn't always that easy to understand, like the poems of Sylvia Plath and the riddles at the end of 3-2-1, Amos could be accused of being overtly illusive, even pretentious. Many times the songs seem to be just a load of nonsense and it is only when you actually sit down and listen properly (having the written lyrics in front of you also helps) do you begin to understand perhaps what she is trying to get at. That said her songs are deep and yet addictive without the need for catchy simplicity that so much pop seems to rely on these days. Stand-out tracks for me are Concertina, Spring Haze, 1000 Oceans, Lust, Glory of the 80's and, the track which seems to sum up my feelings about this album - Bliss. (The second CD is a live one featuring some of her earlier songs.)