Tori Amos – [Album]

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

After the red hot and poetic political dismissal she expunged in 2007's American Doll Posse (one of the most prescient and incendiary commentaries to be released in the twilight of George W. Bush's presidency), Tori Amos hasn't so much returned to center for Abnormally Attracted To Sin as she has continued running – pushing boundaries and exploring new terrain. While, granted, the album does cast passing glances to the singer's former songwriting territories (“Maybe California” and “That Guy” could pass for throwbacks to Y Kant Tori Read? or Under The Pink, as could “Curtain Call” albeit with a little more aged wisdom), it's clear that the plan is not to return to home base – and maybe it never was.

Themes of literal travel as well as the observations and experiences made on it dominate tracks like “Welcome To England,” “Maybe California” and “500 Miles” as Amos recounts memories of places and people set against aural backdrops that intermingle classical strings, trip hop beats and epic arrangements, but these are not the only distances to which the singer goes on Abnormally Attracted To Sin. The emotional and intellectual distances that Amos throws between herself and listeners on this album (particularly in the syncopated pharmaceutical-naming of “Mary Jane,” the conflicted come-ons and kiss-offs in “Strong Black Vine,” submissive subservience of “Police Me” and psychological warfare expressed in “Flavor”) wind around and spiral out new, thicker layers of emotional insulation around this once most gut-wrenchingly personal and candid of singers and regularly leaves listeners guessing in regards to where she'll suddenly appear next in each moment of the album's seventy-two-minute run-time. Such obviously evasive designs would normally be off-putting to fans accustomed to Amos' previously pathetic fallacy-addled and confessional style and would be turned off here – were it not for the remarkably delicate and pristine artifice that graces these seventeen songs. Once again sitting in the producer's chair, Abnormally Attracted To Sin marks a consistently surreal but solid turn as Amos  allows herself to enjoy the twisted soundscapes she creates rather than play against them or simply chronicle her observations; for fear of sounding trite – for the first time in years, Tori Amos gives herself completely to her music and gets right down in it and be part of it again – although it isn't all about her as it has been previously.

With all of that in mind and given her audience's seeming reliance on her established forms, there's little doubt Amos' ever-so-slight changes to her presentation will have a very divisive effect on the singer's fan base. Listeners will either love the fact that she's opened the scope of her songwriting style to include other people that aren't just facsimiles of herself, or hate the fact that the singer isn't ruminating on the vicissitudes of her own past experiences quite so much as she has previously. Realistically though, the change was bound to happen eventually; hopefully, resilient fans will recognize that as long as the quality of her songwriting stays as high as it is on Abnormally Attracted To Sin, Tori Amos would be best served continuing to tread as far as she dares from her comfort zone.


Tori Amos' official website

Tori Amos on myspace


“Maybe California” from Abnormally Attracted To Sin


Abnormally Attracted To Sin is out now and available on Amazon.

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