After a long and varied career that has taken in musicals, classical albums and even UK #1 albums (those were the days), Tori Amos is back at her beloved Bösendorfer piano seat with a new tour in support of 14th studio album ‘Unrepentant Geraldines’.
The redhead fan favourite still has fire running through her veins and her ivory-tickling fingers, as evident on the new album. Although it isn’t officially out until Monday 12th May (my deluxe copy is in the post as I type), a pre-release leak confirms that Amos still has the talent and the ability to thrill and surprise even when most music fans remember her as the quirky girl at the piano who delivered ‘Little Earthquakes’ back when Kurt Cobain was still alive.
Of course, the Toriphiles know every key struck across her extensive back catalogue, even if some diehards are opinionated about the fact that the last decade of Amos’s work is not to their taste. Sure, the likes of ‘The Beekeeper’ and ‘Abnormally Attracted to Sin’ may have had flaws, but the truly dedicated must be able to see the progression of a true artist and piano prodigy, whatever musical direction she’s taken – and 2011’s ‘Night of Hunters’ easily ranks among her best work.
So, what to make of ‘Unrepentant Geraldines’? Latter-day Tori has seemed intent on moving her off-centre piano balladry into new musical areas, dabbling as she has with pomp-rock guitars, electronics and even more overtly classical orchestration. ‘Unrepentant’ touches upon all these and more, harking back to familiar points in her discography whilst also forging ahead with new textures and new themes.
Highlights include those typical Tori torch songs that will hopefully feature heavily in setlists for years to come: ‘Wild Way’, ‘Weatherman’ and especially ‘Selkie’ and ‘Invisible Boy’ are perfect new companions for Amos’s most worshipped song girls. The left-turns keep it fresh though; from the southern Gothic vibe of ‘Trouble’s Lament’ (see video above) and the jaunty fusion of politics and pies on ‘Giant’s Rolling Pin’ to the playful and even ambitious likes of ’16 Shades of Blue’ and the album’s title track, it’s clear Amos is not resting on her laurels. Throw in a gorgeous duet with her daughter Tash, and it’s a fulfilling record that may not recapture the raw energy of all-time favourite ‘Boys for Pele’ but shows women over the age of 50 may have a whole lot more to say – and a whole lot more talent – than the Miley Cyruses of the world.
Catch Tori on tour this summer. I’ll be doing the fanboy thing next week in Birmingham – will I be seeing you there??