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This review is from: Unrepentant Geraldines (Audio CD)
I was surprised to see that somehow, without noticing, it had been 20 years since I first encountered Tori Amos through Under The Pink, and continued what is my most enduring affection for a single artist through eleven subsequent albums, not to mention box sets, rare B-sides, and numerous wonderful gigs. It's not been an easy journey, and the law of diminishing returns has meant that much of the last decade has been spent grumbling about the quantity over quality with regards to her material, trying to balance out those gems among the less deserving material that would have made a passable B-side but didn't deserve album placing.
Generally speaking, when a less-is-more approach has been taken, it's made for a very palatable album (witness both Midwinter Graces and Gold Dust, both of which pulled me back to eager fandom after a long slump), so it was with a sigh of relief when I saw that Unrepentant Geraldines contained a mere 14 tracks. Once I'd heard the marvelous Trouble's Lament, I felt even more reassured - this is Tori's strongest single for a long, long time, lighter and more playful in sound but also a new sonic palette. It's one of the album's highlights, but it has strong competition indeed. From the opening America, through to the last strains of Invisible Boy, the 14 tracks have an air of enthusiasm and playful gear-switching that's been absent in recent years; the multi-part title track is a true joy, once again taking the Tori Amos sound into new territories that echo The Police, of all things. Part of the lightness is the absence of Matt Chamberlain's monotonous drumming, or really any drums at all, which prevents too much weight to the songs - when there are drums, there's no direct credit, so I assume they are played or programmed by Mr Amos, or Mark Hawley/Mac Aladdin as he is credited. As a result, the sound is given more space, evidenced by the use of literal sound effects in 16 Shades Of Blue that might have been otherwise jarring, but here seem like a nice touch to an already-excellent song.
It's not all perfect; the trademark Tori Amos jauntiness found on Mr Zebra or Wednesday goes too far in the wrong direction on Giant's Rolling Pin, and the biggest howler is the use of her daughter Tash to sing alternating lines on the otherwise lovely Promise, ruining the song entirely. Similarly, I haven't quite settled into Selkie, which seems to be a favourite among everyone else. But for an album that's only been released in the last few days, it already feels simultaneously comfortingly familiar and a fresh new step.
Of the three bonus tracks, none of them are essential listening, but since only one of them actually costs money at time of writing (the iTunes exclusive White Telephone To God), it does no harm to round out the album with these curios. The deluxe CD Forest Of Glass is probably the best, reminiscent of the classic Garlands.
In objective terms, this would merit four stars from me - it's not all top-flight material, but it's not far off; however, the palpable sense of relief at the high quality after her last `proper' album (ie non-seasonal, non-classical album of new material, which was half a decade ago) was the weakest of her career, this gets five stars. I'll be very interested to see what comes next...
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Initial post: 16 May 2014, 12:55:42 BST
What is list of stinkers? Am curious to see if it matches mine :)! Great review!
In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2014, 14:49:05 BST
Last edited by the author on 17 May 2014, 14:54:31 BST
Guy Incognito says:
Heh, I got called a ' ungrateful, boring, moronic whining, whinging waste of carbon' for suggesting Ms Amos was less than perfect on my Abnormally Attracted To Sin review, but for the benefit of that commentator, here are ten Tori Amos songs from the last decade or so that curl my toes in embarrassment:
2 Ribbons Undone
3 Not David Bowie
4 Snow Cherries From France
5 Cactus Practice
6 Mary Jane
7 That Guy
8 Not Dying Today
9 Police Me
10 Job's Coffin
As a comparison, I'd be hard pushed to name five songs from 1992-2003 that have the same effect.
And just to prevent someone setting fire to me with their ultra-flames, here's ten utterly essential tracks that I'd rank among her best work ever:
1 Gold Dust
2 Girl Disappearing
3 Bouncing Off Clouds
4 Edge Of The Moon
5 Body & Soul
6 Lady In Blue
8 Goodbye Pisces
9 Pink & Glitter
In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2014, 23:00:02 BST
I would agree with you on all of them - apart from That Guy which I do like. The other 9 I would never ever listen to. Also agree about the essential 10 - apart from Edge of the Moon as Night of Hunters - I just can't :)!
In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2014, 23:15:34 BST
I adore "Snow Cherries". "Goodbye Pisces" and "Pink and Glitter" are on my stinkers list. And everything on "The Beekeeper" is better than ANYTHING on "Abnormally Attracted To Sin". Even when it was good, that album was still naff.
In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2014, 11:45:53 BST
I didn't like "Abnormally Attracted to Sin" when it first came out but it has grown on me recently!
In reply to an earlier post on 23 May 2014, 17:45:49 BST
Ireland always seemed to me to sound as if it was a demo for Atomic Kitten to record a version of!
In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jun 2014, 13:25:44 BST
Guy Incognito says:
Ha ha! Now you've said it, that makes perfect sense.
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