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Tori Amos--pt II
mother evolution

There is a definite evolution in the work of Tori Amos, I know a lot of people are big fans of her early work (particularly the first two albums) and less so of her later stuff. This is not surprising really, her early work is very raw, honest and emotional, while her later work is a lot more subtle, trickier and in some ways musically more interesting, but in other ways definitely less up front and accessible in terms of emotional connection.

I think Tori herself is conscious of this, in an early biography she tells the story of the naming of her second album 'Under the Pink'--apparently a friend commented that the first album 'Little Earthquakes' was Tori raw and naked and asked "what comes next, skinless?"

Let me demonstrate with three songs about motherhood that happen to also be three of my favourite Tori songs.

First is 'Mother' from Tori's first album 'Little Earthquakes'

This song is absolutely heartbreaking. It is about the peril of loosing ourselves in relationships and what we learn about relationships from the women (in particular mothers) in our lives, and some of the not so good advice we might get along the way. It is very raw, and like most of the first two albums it is played mainly on the black keys of the piano (um, I know nothing about the piano as an instrument, perhaps someone who knows a bit more might be able to tell me if that style has a name or if it is even an important considerations)

The next is 'Playboy Mommy' from the 'Choir Girl Hotel' album

I find this one musically more complex, while the story telling is much more subtle--despite the heaviness of the subject (Amos' experience of miscarriage). I think it is like she has learned that you can still have a huge emotional without needing to turn it up to 11 every time, in fact, I feel that this refinement gives it more long term impact.

The third is 'Mother Revolution' from 'The Bee Keeper'

This one didn't capture me at first--I often find that with songs that become lasting favourites, they creep up on me. Definitely more musically developed, I really like the beat in this one (is it 6/4 time? maybe someone more musically literate could tell me).

I feel like more needs to be said here, some kind of a conclusion about the evolution of Tori. However, since she is still creating and evolving I think this would be kind of premature...
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September 2009

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