Not to be scary but Tori Amos has been a huge part of my growing up process. Her classical, angst-ridden sensibilities were perfect for my tragic-ballerina adolescence. Little Earthquakes taught my best friend and me how to speak up. Under the Pink made me aware that my singular voice was situated within a vaster context. Boys for Pele demanded that I consider my own southern heritage and mythology as part of my identity. And the list goes on.
Later, as TA started focusing primarily on being a “rock” musician, I lost interest, though I always purchased the albums. They just never really spoke to me. I wanted the stride piano playing Tori from her performance at University of Houston for the Under the Pink tour. But when Midwinter Graces came out in 2009, I found a glimmer of hope. Her utilization of traditional holiday folk tunes alongside modernized orchestrations was everything I could hope for.
And now we have Night of Hunters. I have been waiting for years to see Tori reclaim her classical roots and Deutsche Grammophon has shown itself to be the perfect label for her very ambitious 21st century song cycle. As with her other albums, she has constructed a narrative that takes us through one women’s quest for unification after a relationship ends. But this is not a slew of “pity-me-I-hate-men” songs. She uses the vast history of Western music as the basis of her cycle. Influenced by Bach, Chopin, and others, the songs are equal parts moody, conniving, and nuanced. An example of her musical collaborations include “Battle of Trees” which uses “Gnossienne No.1” a work of French 20th century composer Erik Satie as its primary melodic structure.
Here is Tori:
Here is Erik Satie:
If you are looking for 21st century contemporary classical, I think this fits in the genre. TA obviously utilizes more straightforward pop sensibilities, but the arrangements and confluence of imagery makes for a truly interesting listen.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that TA’s daughter sings on this album. Though many people think that this is fantastic, it makes me a bit uncomfortable. Should an eleven year old be listening to Tori? Well, the truth is that I was 14. Oh my!
Here are other clips from the album.
Shattering Sea (live)
Job’s Coffin (audio – with her daughter)
And here is my fave clip from Midwinter Graces