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Chicago Tribune
October 29, 2002

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Many thanks to Lucy for this review!

Tori Amos embarks on a muddled journey

Tori Amos lets her eccentricities rule, and that's enough to turn some listeners off, while seducing hard-core fans with a style that fuses the bubble-bath sonics of Enya with the bombast of Led Zeppelin.

Her seventh album as a solo artist, "Scarlet's Walk" (Epic), out Tuesday, slides deeper into the mystic, her wordplay by turns strident, seductive and incomprehensible, her piano-playing lush, lingering and practically bereft of chords. The album is a loosely constructed journey across America, where Amos' alter-ego, Scarlet, meets a discarded lap dancer, prays on sacred Native American land and hangs with a Latino revolutionary. It plays out as the latest series of scenes in Amos' ongoing road movie, with Scarlet as a combination of Thelma and Louise, coming to terms not justwith herself and her past but with her country's sometimes troubling politics and traditions. If that seems too muddled to possibly enjoy (and sometimes, frankly, it's impossible to discern exactly what Amos is singing about), consider the musicality of her wanderings. Amos' phrasing, both as a singer and pianist, favors voluptuousness over sparseness, and when she's on, the steam rises from songs like "Taxi Ride" and "Pancake."

She layers her voice into choirs, or converses with herself in whispers. Sometimes she drifts too far into the New Age mystic ("Crazy"), but "Scarlet's Walk" mostly sounds like the work of someone who shuts out the mundane and tunes exclusively to her own idiosyncratic frequency -- and that's something to celebrate in this era of pre-fab, factory-approved pop personalities

By Greg Kot, Tribune rock critic.

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