Top critical review
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Ambitious, some great highlights, but doesn't always hit the mark
on 22 September 2011
I seem to be in the minority here. I was really looking forward to a classically inspired release from Tori Amos, but while you can't argue with the ambition behind this album, like her last few it is a bit of a mixed bag.
On the plus side, Tori's wonderful piano playing, which seemed in the background on her last album, is back to the fore. I also think her voice sounds better than it has in years, and the classical arrangements and musicians work well. The opening and closing tracks are the standouts: Shattering Sea is wonderfully powerful and dramatic while Carry is simply beautiful. On repeated listens Edge of the Moon, Fearlessness and Night of Hunters really come into their own.
However in some songs the cryptic (to me anyway) lyrics of the "song cycle" don't match the beautiful music. Battle of Trees goes on for about 8 minutes without really going anywhere, and feels a lot longer. Cactus Practice is a sweet tune, but again the odd words seem to jar. As a long time Tori fan I am used to her unique and often beautiful lyrics, but while these seemed to fit and add to the atmosphere on an album like Boys for Pele, here sometimes they make it harder to really connect with the tracks. While Tori's daughter can clearly sing and has an interesting voice, the duets don't really work for me.
It is definitely an album that needs repeated listens to be fully appreciated. I admire the uniqueness and ambition but it doesn't always fulfil its potential. I believe there is a great classical album in Tori Amos, but this isn't quite it.