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"from the choirgirl hotel"
Reviews From Toriphiles

Updated February 21, 2001


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  • Below you will find various reviews of "from the choirgirl hotel" from Toriphiles. If you have heard the album and would like to contribute your own review, please send it to me! I have received so many reviews that this section is now divided into 2 pages. This is page one, which has the latest reviews on it.

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    From Senne Soli

    Added to the Dent on February 21, 2001

    I started to listen to Tori's music in 1997. I knew Professional Widow and Cornflake Girl without knowing Tori Amos. But I was really thrilled when I heard she was going to release a new album in 1998.

    I like the album in general - I think it's her best. Like the rocky and rythmic feel. It's a beautiful and sad diary about getting through bad things in life. It helped me get through a rough period in my life, and I owe her big time. The pictures are beautiful. Not artsy-fartsy, but mystic in a nice way. Also like the landscape.

    Spark - Beautiful. An evolved version Cornflake Girl. Like the heavy piano part after you thought that you were the bomb, yes, well so did I. Never expected it to be remixed, but the result is stunning.

    Cruel - Haunting and dark, really nice trip-hop. Like the percussion. Reminded me of the Mezzanine-album by Massive Attack.

    Black-Dove ( January ) - Another beautiful song, quite bombastic. I thought it would be released as a single.

    Jackie's Strength - This is one of the more boring songs, despite it being beautiful. Also never thought it would be remixed. Don't know about the remix. Some of them are nice, others boring.

    Raspberry Swirl - The best ! A really new Tori-style, and I hope she'll do things like this again. The Sticky Extended-remix kicks ass.

    i i e e e - Another one of bests. Really the work of a genius. The part where she brings out the arsonist is fantastic. Like rocky mountains-Tori. Do one more.

    Liquid Diamonds - Thought it was boring at first, but I learned to appreciate this trip-hoppy song. It really builds up, right the improvised end. Like her voice in this song.

    She's Your Coca‘ne - Rock my place. The breathing in the end is the best. I'm sure that those devils can come.

    Northern Lad - Beautiful and boring at the same time. Don't know about this one.

    Hotel - The very best of the album. Give me more ! Thought it would be remixed.

    Playboy Mommy - Nice, bluesy song. Thought it would be released as a single. The anchorpoint of the album. Those angels can't ever take your place.


    From Richard Koppinger

    May 19, 1998 - From The Choirgirl Hotel - Reviewed by Richard Koppinger

    It was July of 1965, and the bright shining star of folk music, Bob Dylan - hailed as the next Woody Guthrie - took the stage at the Newport Folk Festival with an electric guitar. The crowd was outraged at this perceived blasphemy and showed their anger with boos or silence. People screamed "We want Dylan!" as he played. Detractors and fans alike attacked Bob Dylan for "going commercial" and "selling out". Dylan was dead, they lamented. The next month, he released his historic album Highway 61 Revisited, which included several future Dylan classics, including "Like a Rolling Stone", which became a new anthem for a new generation of musicians and fans.

    The Beatles were treated harshly by some of the British press in 1967. The singles they released in February of that year, "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever", failed to reach the top of the charts, a place where every Beatles pop hit resided, often for weeks, sometimes only to be displaced by yet another Beatles pop hit. It was the first time since 1962 that a Beatles single failed to reach number one. They were unable to dethrone the Englebert Humperdink hit "Release Me". The mop top lads who took the world by storm and unintentionally spawned dozens of sound-alike bands, appeared to be at the end of their long and winding road.

    While news was spreading that the band was working on a major project unlike anything anybody had ever heard, many in the British press treated the band as a fad that was now passing. The Beatles were spending an extraordinarily long time in the studio, and no album was forthcoming anytime soon. This was normally the death knell for any band.

    On June 1, 1967 - after an unprecedented 129 days in Abbey Road Studios - The Beatles released the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. This album was to define a new direction for the band, away from pop, toward rock - a direction they had been experimenting with on a few earlier recordings. Moreover, it changed forever the entire landscape of rock, and became a catalyst for the "Summer of Love", the full flowering of the 1960's counter-culture, a whole new revolution in civil rights, spirituality, and political awareness.

    On May 5, 1998, Tori Amos released From The Choirgirl Hotel. I can understand Tori wanting to expand her musical horizons. Cliche-filled, cookie-cutter, angst-ridden female singer/songwriters everywhere are being compared to her in such a ridiculously short-hand way; some of them I personally have no use for, and many of them are garnering more commercial success than Tori is currently enjoying. What's a girl and her piano to do? Break away from the pack and leave the entire field in the dust, that's what.

    Far from abandoning her open-hearted, intimate style of intelligent and emotional songwriting which is often brimming with metaphor and allegory, she has instead raised the bar, giving scores of lesser talented imitators a target nearly impossible to hit. The "Girl and a piano" is not dead, she's just taken it to heights that the wannabes never would have dreamed of reaching - until Tori shows them how, perhaps.

    From The Choirgirl Hotel seems at first like such a radical departure for her. Where Tori had laid her music bare in sparse arrangements like so many winter trees, her current songs burst with new musical foliage - full drums, more guitars, expanded keyboards, and hard driving beats. Only by listening closely to each song does one arrive at the inescapable conclusion that this album is so unmistakably Tori. She is still a masterful weaver of images, able to take the ethereal and shape it into something so solid, so tangible, so alive, you can feel its presence right beside you. From The Choirgirl Hotel is about Tori adding new elements to her repertoire, not abandoning her highly original and intimate style that so many people initially fell in love with. Songs like "Jackie's Strength", "Black Dove (January)", and "Northern Lad" - classic Tori tales of the depth of human drama that read like poetry set to music - should provide enough reassurance of this.

    "Spark" is a quintessential opening track. It grabs you and draws you right in, which is exactly what an album's opening track is supposed to do. "Cruel" is a sinfully rich and creamy song that melts through your speakers like butter on oven-fresh garlic bread. "Raspberry Swirl" is a hard rocker that I can easily picture PJ Harvey covering. The cool and jazzy "Liquid Diamonds" is possibly my favorite girl in the hotel. Tori has put on her musical walking shoes and covers a lot of ground here from rock, soul, jazz, techno, dance, even a honky-tonk jukebox flair to the song "Playboy Mommy". The pedal-steel guitar comes in at the most perfect moment.

    "She's Your Cocaine" and "iieee" both are strikingly similar in style to "In The Springtime Of His Voodoo". They sound like 3 songs grafted together, and Tori makes it all sound perfectly natural; proof enough that she's got the best instincts of any composer in the business. Admittedly, "Pandora's Aquarium" begins as if it were a Venusian cocktail lounge standard, but it's smooth and very melodic, and just as daring as anything else on this amazing album.

    I'm excited about Tori's new album. More importantly, I'm glad she has the courage to expand her musical repertoire, rather than reduce her ground-breaking earlier work to a mere formula for mass-production. I used to be a really big fan of Jethro Tull, but a few years ago it got to the point where Ian Anderson seemed to be merely popping the same few songs out of molds like so many wheels of cheese. I know what it's like to see my favorite songwriter go stale, whether out of laziness or complacency. I want to see Tori create, not regurgitate. That's why I'm excited about this album. She's the same painter, but with a larger palette and more colors. This album may well go down in rock history as a masterpiece.

    More than 30 years after he was pronounced dead at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, Bob Dylan is still going strong, and recently won a Grammy for Best Folk Album. Can you imagine Tori as the new Dylan? From The Choirgirl Hotel as a Sgt. Pepper for the 1990's?

    We could be seeing a whole new era for singer/songwriters beginning right here, right now. Wouldn't that be something?


    From Danielle Ringrose

    May 19, 1998 - I'm now sitting at the bar at the choirgirl hotel, sipping a bourbon and coke, in front of a glitzy, shimmery cabaret-style stage set up almost like a beauty contest, where the girls from the hotel are about to walk out on stage to be judged. I sit back with the rest of the judges and enjoy the show.

    SPARK - she enters all confidant - she knows she's the main contender for the prize, as she's the reigning beauty queen. She has a low, throaty, slightly gravelly voice, and is eloquently spoken, which I adore. Halfway through her performance her voice echoes around the room, and it's feather-like. Her dress is black, and slightly shimmery, and she's wearing a dull silver necklace. She has performed this before, so I give her a B+ for improvement.

    CRUEL - the lights dim, and Cruel walks on stage with a cigarette in hand, her voice percussive, soft-spoken and husky. She's got dark hair and maroon lipstick on, slightly smeared on the cigarette. Her long dress is a silky dark blue, with purple swirls in it. Just like the dress, she swirls around the stage, whirling to the grating bass guitars, stopping now and again to play a small rhythm on the marimba. As cruel exits stage left, I write the grade in red pen A for the vocalisations during the bridge and at the end.

    BLACK-DOVE - wearing a long, spaghetti-strap flowing power-blue dress, she floats on stage, and tiptoes round the stage like a ballerina and performs to a truly beautiful song, with prepared piano. When the drums and guitars kick in, Black-Dove kicks up the long skirts and we can see the leather boots under her skirt, even if only momentarily. There's too much restrained emotion in this song... you almost feel like you shouldn't be listening to it... the piano sounds like it's coming from next door - muffled, and it feels like neighbour is telling a story, and I'm not sure if I'm allowed to listen in, until she starts screaming. She keeps singing a line "by the woods" and she's making me regress... going back to hiking through dark, green overcast woods, trying to find a lake... and I'm thinking of an episode of the X-Files. A.

    RASPBERRY SWIRL - although we're unsure of her at first - she's wearing bright pink lipstick, a spanish-style dress and those damn thigh-high boots our mother warned us about. Lights dance around and she sings us a tale about going to a disco (I think..) As much as I don't want to like her, she's infectiously happy... particularly when she plays the high-range piano during the chorus. She departs the stage in a flurry of rhythms and extremely out of breath. A-

    JACKIE'S STRENGTH: she enters looking like my mother would have in the 60s. Very stylish and swish. Almost prim and proper. The curtains behind her raise to reveal the London Symphony! which plays a intriguing background melody, particularly the plucked strings. The song and her performance are both well-orchestrated and planned to perfection, but it leaves me... dry. For some reason she reminds me of lunchtime tv. I don't know. Jackie curtseys politely at the end, and leaves to a smattering of applause. Even though the other judges seem to be inpressed by her, I'm not that crash hot on her. B- (a higher grade than normal, simply because her lyrics weave a wonderful story).

    i i e e e - The announcer has a bit of trouble with her name, so she walks up the mic and has to say it for us (and is apparently eye-eye-ee, if anyone's needing help). She's a very sensuous American Indian, with long flowing black hair and a wily look in her eye. She sinks to the floor when the backing bass slides down. The lights are purple, but occasionally change to green, making us think it's a trick of our minds. She comes running up to the judges halfway through her show, screaming at us, but we are not alarmed by that - instead, we enjoy the sudden switch of emotions as she accuses of trying to save her. B+

    LIQUID DIAMONDS - we almost don't hear her come on. She's a true bar performer. The repeditive cymbals lull us into a sombre mood, and tori's piano sounds like the music we heard the bar pianist play before the show. The judges all feel compelled to order another drink. Her low vocals in the chorus are truly divine, just like Cruel's, and I want her to sing the chorus over again... particularly the line "liquid running." I think of Madonna singing Live to tell. Diamonds has hypnotised us, and weaves us a little dream, moving up and down, almost like an ocean. Near the end Diamonds starts talking to herself in a kind of soliloquy, and leaves the stage the same way she came on. A

    SHE'S YOUR COCAINE - she runs on stage amidst a big fanfare, and requests the speakers be turned up for her vibrant, yet quick, performance. We jerk up to attention, and she's wearing jeans and a tight red t-shirt. We love her immediately. All the judges start tapping their feet, and she sneaks a big Rrock bloke on stage to dance around with her. She does a weird routine showing us how to shave our legs in strange positions. Her voice rises with excitement near the end when she pleads "please don't help me with this" and starts rocking out. Just a song to put a smile on my face. However, she loses marks for being too short. B+

    NORTHERN LAD - as much as I want to like her, because she writes damn good poetry, I find myself being let down. I'm seeing rain on windowpanes here, folks. She plays a kind of driving music after a relationship argument (at night, particularly her chorus bit). Definitely break-up music. She's picked the right lighting and music for her set, but it still doesn't *grab* me. Her information sheet the judges are given tells me her name's Angie [the opening chord sounds exactly like the opening chord for Tori's version of "Angie"]. Her mascara starts discretely running down her cheeks mid-set, and we want to hold her hand for a few moments. C+ (the plus for having such wonderful lyrics)

    HOTEL - 3 girls come running on stage during this number, albeit in different moments. The first one has short hair and glitter on her face. She's of American Indian descent as well, and gives her speech sporadically. Very 80s-influenced bass effects. Then the big brassy woman comes on stage and the lighting goes haywire. She wants "more" and I'm just totally transfixed. I turn the volume up on my personal set of speakers. I'm visualising an electronica-opera here. She's big and she's beautiful and she commands the most attention of the 3 girls. Possibly one of the singly most beautiful moments on the album. Her performance churns, commanded by the grinding bass at the bottom. The 3rd girl, wearing a crushed brown velvet dress, although her show is just as wonderful, pales as her performance comes after the "more" girl. A march-like rhythm for the drums, although her 2nd performance sees her become more secure in her performance and she becomes more confident. They all vow defiantly to be back ("I'm still alive"). A

    PLAYBOY MOMMY - a darling girl without her makeup comes on. She looks a bit melancholy, as though she doesn't want to be here. After a bit of hesitation, she starts telling us a story ("then the baby came"). As much as her song is almost jaunty, we can't help dabbing at our eyes with Kleenex. It's fairly country-influenced and she shows a slight accent when she says the word "girl". She manages to place us in a park somewhere in England, with an arched bridge, and a cemetery in the distance. It's slightly overcast, and Playboy has to put on her anorak as she leaves the stage, planning to go to Church when the whole show is over). I just love this song. The melody is fantastic (although her "take you in my arms" makes me think of... Cher.). My A+

    PANDORA'S AQUARIUM - she's another bar performer, with a wonderful vocal range. Unfortunately, her show is too demure and middle-of-the-road (eek! I can't believe I just said that!) for my liking. She's high-pitched and breathy at the beginning of her performance, but soon calms her nerves and settles into a slow groove. She's not the best closer for the show; I kind of wish Playboy could've been at the end. Pandora performs the kind of music that comes over the speakers when the show's over and the audience is filing out the door. B.

    There's a small circle of water on my judge's table where my numerous glasses of bourbon have been resting. The ice has melted in the bottom of the last one long ago, but I forgot to get a refill. My head swims... This has been the best cabaret show yet put on by this hotel, and I walk away from the hotel in the drizzle with my long coat on, humming to myself, hurrying home to my boyfriend. It's been a long night.


    From Beth Coulter (posted to various mailing lists)

    May 19, 1998 - I've never really done this, try to put into words what my initial impressions of Toris' work are. But by reading others impressions, I am finding interesting insights. So here I go, trying to put into words what I am hearing.

    First, let me confess that I am one of those horrible people who had a promo copy tape of the album a few weeks before it was released. I listened to it constantly and memorized every word and didn't fret too much when CDNow didn't ship until the release date (so I recieved it Friday). Boy, was I wrong! I should have been screaming for the CD. I had no idea the many layers that I was missing on my tape. The arrangements of music are classic and will be classics years after we are all gone. Tori is showing her great, enormous skill as a musician with this.

    I sat in front of the stereo, each speaker at either ear, and absorbed the music. I don't dislike Raspberry Swirl, tho' it is my least favorite girl.

    But these are all very individual girls.

    I found the sounds surrounding Jackie's Strength to be very powerful. The strings surround Toris' voice and the piano like a cocoon then departs and leaves Tori and the keys standing alone in center stage, before coming back to envelope her again. The lyrics are as multi-layered as the music and I know that I will be learning much more about this song the more I truly listen.

    My favorite, even from the first time I heard it is iieee. The tribal beat and trancy strings, the back vocals of "iieee" sends me into a zone that is not familer to me. Then her soaring voice during the chorus of "I know we are dying...why can't it be beautiful" drags me out of my trance, and I am feeling "so crazy, so naked" until the final breath.

    Then the drums hypnotize me again as "Liquid Diamonds" comes poaring down on my ears, making me feel as if I'm in a smoky blues club, then waking to "I guess I'm an Underwater Thing", my heart beginning to beat faster as the vocals go to a climax on "liquid dia-monds". This song changes 3 different ways (as most of these girls do) and my mind races to catch up to the changes. The "trilogy" of LE, Pink and Boys made my mind race to capture the lyrics many meanings. choirgirl hotel is the first time my ears have fought to capture the smallest nuance of each bar of music and the different dances performed by the indivdual instruments.

    Northern Lad is one of those songs that wraps itself around my brain, out of touch until the song begins playing, then crashing to the forefront with all the different connections I have with it, especially "when you're only wet because of the rain". Since it has been raining a lot in my life lately, I truly relate.

    Playboy Mommy is probably the most accessable of all these girls, most clear in the vocals and on the surface, a simplistic melody. But then again, hearing it with a speaker at each ear I could hear the complexities of this also. But trying to focus on the music alone I am finding almost impossible because of the pain of her voice.

    Pandora's Aquarium is the song that even on tape I could tell was highly complex, a composition worthy of inclusion with the masters like Bach and Rochmaninoff(sp?). The lyrics seem more like filler than a necessity for this piece, that it would stand well on it's own as an instrumental. Yet, I know that I have not yet mined the depths of the words, just taking notice of the Tori-ized word play (ie, "Stare but I can taste you're still alive below the waste).

    I have hours to go on this album because each girl is so different that they require individual attention. I have named the ones that called the hardest to me, and those are the girls I have studied so far.

    I guess to sum it up, from the choirgirl hotel is the greatest example to date of Tori's artistic way of putting her music on canvas, each song a piece of art, each breath changing the form, color and meaning. I will never tire of Tori Amos for this reason, her voice paints the most incredible pictures I have ever heard and she forces me to use every single part of my brain to understand what she is doing.


    From Luis Ontiveros

    May 19, 1998 - Well my first experience with ftCGH besides "Spark", was the broadcasting on April 30th, and when I was waiting to see her at the Filmore, (someone was playing it on a portable radio, crappy sound and all) and I was disapointed that I didn't get to hear it for the first time with the volume way up, in my room, door closed of course. I had high expectations of this album, with all the great reviews and hype it was getting, and the first time I listened to it, I was a bit disapointed, not by much though!!!! Of course after listening to her live and then going to a programmed CD, its a bit of a shock! I loved the power and intensity of the songs live, except "Spark", I like the album version better. I was expecting this to be totally Techno-Tori (techno meaning electric, not so much that annoying industrial rave music) and although its different from her other albums, it still screams Tori, and after giving it a couple of more spins, I really like this album. So here goes the rating of the songs, It won't be long, I promise!!

    Spark: 9.5, I love the piano bridge, I really needed that to be present on this album.

    Cruel: 8.5, A different direction for Tori and I think she handles it well.

    Black-Dove (January): 9, Love it. In a way, (minus the band) its classic Tori.

    Raspberry Swirl: 9, Yes 9, What a fun song, not shocking considering Blue Skies.

    Jackie's Strength: 9, Another classic, could've been a 9.5, if it didn't follow the upbeat RS.

    i i e e e: 9, Kinda reminds me of Cruel, but has its own personality, and I like it a tad bit more than Cruel. I love the beat, especially the image of screaming in cathedrals.

    Liquid Diamonds: 6.5, From the title of the song, I expected something different, something a bit more magical, it kinda drags for me, it might grow on me.

    She's Your Cocaine: 6, My least favorite song, not that its crap, I just need to give it time I think. It made the same impression that Professional Widow did on BfP.

    Northern Lad: 8.5, beautiful song, a bit repetitive sounding for me, could very well grow to be one of my favorites.

    Hotel: 9, I hated this song at first, really, I didn't even listen to it all the way, but now I love it, I don't know what it is, but I get these great images in my head when I listen to this, the whole "beneath ground" thing is very exciting for me, and the ending is great. Shades of Kate Bush ( I hate comparing, but with this, I can't help it)

    Playboy Mommy: 9.5, This song moves me like no other Tori song, I see a great music video for this, kinda in the mood of Hey Jupiter. My eyes were misty when I first heard this, and the more I listen to it, I almost break down..."those angels can't ever take my place..."

    Pandora's Box: 7, The same as Liquid Diamonds, I expected something a little different with the title, though, I don't think the album should have ended with this song.

    Well that's just my opinion, I think it's fun to see how everyone reacts to the album and to see what they think. If you average all the songs together it comes to an 8.3, but I would give the entire album an 8.5. Still my favorite album is close tie between LE and UTP.


    From peter ton

    May 19, 1998 - A perusal of the responses to From the Choirgirl Hotel very quickly reveals the prevalence of the idea that the album's merits are immediately reduced because it is "different." To be fair, people have always hated change but it is not as if Toriphiles everywhere were not given prior warning. The entire issue has been inflated beyond all semblance of proportion such that I wonder if anyone is paying attention to the music at all. I have always thought that the whole point to Tori's music was that it promoted the idea that it is a fallacy to force people to submit to a predefined and uninspired role. Yet when you look at many people's responses they have immediately taken the stance that this is "new" Tori as opposed to "old" Tori. Underlying all this is the tone they she "owes" her fans some undefined duty that she has transgressed with her new album. I almost expect people to start saying, with their bottom lip quivering, "how dare she." Disregarding any discussion about the dilemma of the parasitic nature of vicarious pleasure, what I found most striking about the new album was that I recognized the voice and spirit behind it immediately. I did not see old or new, rather it struck me how vibrant TORI sounded.

    I think the service Tori did us all by warning us about the new album in advance has had the opposite effect. It seems too many people approached the album expecting to be disappointed and, as such, it was inevitable that their wish was granted. Certainly Tori sounds "different" but it does not necessarily follow that she is no longer the person we all love. I think the problem is that some people are not listening hard enough.


    From Chris Cochran

    May 19, 1998 - I finally got my copy of "from the choirgirl hotel." I was a few days late because of the Tower Records Merman download...some complications. Every day was a torturous wait, but I convinced myself that while others were already digesting the new cd, it would still be completely new to me. So it kind of worked...anyway, I've had it for six days now, and feel acquainted with the new songs, but am giving it some time to tell me the story. First, a word about Tori's "new sound." I realize that some people are turned off by this new kind of approach that Tori's taken, but I urge you to be sure you have given this work a fair listen before you make your final decision. Yes, it's very different from what she's done before, and yes, the new approach sends out different emotions and doesn't hit us the same way her previous work has done, but you have to ask yourself if it works for this music. I expect my favorite performers to go through changes and to try new things...that's why I respect the performers that I do. Tori's definitely one of those. I think the band sound, the drums, and yes, the "electronica" all work well for this material. I'll discuss it more within each of the songs.

    I've really enjoyed reading the reviews the past few days. They're extreme in their response, and this time around, even more varied. That's the good thing about Tori's music though...if you really listen to it and really let yourself get caught up in it, you rarely walk the middle road with your opinion. Not much music evokes those kinds of emotions from people.

    For FTCH, I think Tori has gone down the right path. I think the album is incredible. I've read a few reviews saying that there's not enough emotion, and that the piano is too much in the background. As for the piano issue, no one should really be surprised by that. Tori's been telling us for a while that the piano wouldn't be as up front on this one. I think that's kind of cool though because the piano's still carrying quite a bit of the workload...it's just in the background. You have to be in tune, and you have to really listen to not only hear the piano, but to appreciate it. It's there, and it's strong, and on songs like Spark, and Raspberry Swirl, it's doing some pretty cool stuff. As for the emotion issue, I think there's quite a bit of emotion, but it's a different kind. The instruments allow the emotion to be a little more serious, and strong, and fierce at times.

    I'm still getting to know the songs, and hear different things each time I hear them, but here's what I think so far.

    Spark. This is a very strong and solid song, but I think the most interesting thing is that it's the first one on the cd. Song order is very important to me, so I always look for a progression from song to song. Tori just jumps right in on this one, with no little introduction. (I'm used to one after the Pele tour.) It works, and the song gets the album off to a solid beginning. I hadn't picked up the "swing low sweet chariot" until reading Beth Winegarner's comments. I appreciate knowing about that, and I'd wondered if she might be singing that. It opens up a new appreciation of the song for me. I like the way she's been performing this one live. (I haven't been to a club show, but from the mp3s I've heard online, the live performances of all the new songs are going to be incredible. I can't wait for the summer tour.)

    Cruel. This is kind of a creepy little song, and a nice prelude to the rest of the cd. I like this one a lot. From the early reports I expected something a little more rocking, but it's just what it needs to be. This one features quite a bit of emotion. I love the way she sings this one, and the lyrics are great. To me, it seems she's singing that she has a tendency to make wrong choices, and to be mean at times without trying to be. I think "why can't my ba.ll.oo.n stay up in a perfectly windy sky" refers to losing friendships/relationships even when things seem, on the surface, to be going well.

    Black-Dove (January). I thought this one would be one of the first to hook me, but it hasn't caught on with me as quickly as some of the others. I think it has the potential to be very beautiful, and the introduction is just gorgeous. At first the "other side of the galaxy" was a little too bombastic for my tastes. I think the song points to many different worlds all at once. I think she changes personas a couple of times when she goes from third to first person. She may be singing about someone who has such potential and such beauty that she's spent time "on the other side of the galaxy," or seems like she's from there... Maybe she's singing about someone who had bad experiences in the tiny house and took herself across the galaxy to deal with it. And Tori sings "I have to get to Texas," saying that she has to go where she needs to in order to face her own fears. (That's an interesting connection with Thelma and Louise.)

    Raspberry Swirl. This song just killed me the first time I heard it! I cracked me up the first time I heard her sing "senorita." This is one of the songs that's divided listeners right down the middle. I love this one, though! The more I listen, the more I notice. The piano's going on in the background, and some other stuff that sounds like little birds chirping. At one point she sings the line "everybody knows" low and breathy, which is a nice touch. The lyrics are wonderful, and very powerful. It seems like a fun dancy song, but as it is with Tori, there's a little bit more hidden in the lyrics. I think the song is about giving yourself over to having a little bit of fun, even when you're faced with loss. When she sings, "I am not your senorita," I think she may be saying that she's not like other people in her situation. She handles things in different ways.

    Jackie's Strength. This one's pretty, but doesn't intrigue me as much as some of the others. The arrangement's nice, but I think the vocal performance could be a little stronger on this one...maybe she brings it out more live...I don't know. I do like the line "virgins always get backstage no matter what they've got to say." This song isn't as metaphorical as some of the others and seems pretty straightforward. (I kind of like feeling like I have to figure them out.) I've started to enjoy this one more, so maybe it will grow on me.

    i i e e e This is one of my favorites. Beautiful imagery, beautiful arrangement, and background vocals. And the middle part of "just say yes..." is captivating. Besides, how many people would you find to give a song such a title?

    Liquid Diamonds. This one's really grown on me lately. It doesn't jump out at you like the others, but it's not any less significant because of that. It's a beautiful song, and lyrically, maybe one of the most important. It's got some of the strongest underwater imagery, which is a recurring theme on the album. I'm still getting to know this one. It's got a kind of quiet energy to it. I like when the piano comes in at the beginning, and the changes that are done to her vocals on the verses of the song. It's beautiful when she really belts out "liquid diamonds," and the choruses are groovy and catchy. This is also a very emotional song and one with nice piano work in the background. I'm impressed with the prominent improv part at the end of the song. (But, if anyone knows what a carbon vox is, please let me know.)

    She's Your Cocaine. This one is wild, but I like it. The middle part is what makes the song, for me. "Is it true that devils end up like you" is a great part of the song. I like the way the lyrics kind of go off on a tangent at the end, then she sings, "Please don't help me with this." Listen closely to the piano on the chorus.

    Northern Lad. A little more of a straightforward style, musically, but I like this one a lot. It reminds me slightly of Joni Mitchell's A Case Of You, the way the lyrics sort of switch subjects to the sunset. It's hard to explain what I mean by that... And the line "when you're only wet because of the rain" is an instant classic and brings back thoughts of Hey Jupiter.

    Hotel. This is maybe my favorite of the bunch. It's interesting too, how people are divided on this one. Everyone's talking about the band Tori's playing with, but it's also a huge deal that she's using a keyboard on this album. She plays it in concerts where the harpsicord was, and does quite a bit with it on FTCH. Think about how the album would be different if she just used the piano. And this song is a key example. It's just so original. I love the hotel imagery. I get the feeling listening to it, that the singer's actually inside a hotel looking for someone. It also makes me think about how visits to hotels are temporary, so when you're dealing with hotels, people come and go. One of my absolute favorite parts on the cd is when she sings "I have to learn to let you crash down." I picture someone falling off the hotel balcony, but I don't think that's what it's about. :) The piano during "where are the velvets" is something to love. This is an excellent song, and I hope people can appreciate this.

    Playboy Mommy. My second favorite right now. People have mixed feelings about the sound on this one, but I think the tune is beautiful and fits perfectly the emotions she needs to get across in the song. The vocal performance is heartfelt and emotional, and the lyrics are some of the best on FTCH. She gets the emotions across by doing a song that sounds like nothing she's ever done before. So it took some of us by surprise, but I instantly loved it, and thought it was beautifully written.

    Pandora's Aquarium. Like many of you, I needed to give this one a little extra time when I first heard it. I think what the deal is, is that after such a rhythm heavy album, a song with such a free-form, train-of-thought introduction caught us by surprise. I, too, am reminded of Sister Named Desire and Yes Anastasia with the beginning of this song. It's taken me awhile to fully appreciate it, but I do enjoy the chorus of the song. When I read the lyrics online before FTCH was released, I was as impressed with the lyrics to this as any of the others. And I still am, but it's taking some time to put the words with the music and to make it flow. Like Liquid Diamonds and Cruel, it gives me an underwater feeling, and a feeling of floating away. It's a nice way to end the album, and wraps it up. When I hear "line me up in single file with all your grievances," it makes me think she may even be saying let me hear what you think about all this that I've told you. Then she hits hard with "stare but I can taste you're still alive below the waste," which is a memorable line. "Ripples come and ripples go and ripple back to me" seems like she's saying that everything in life revolves around, and everybody has their place in life. I'm still trying to figure out the very last line, though.

    Overall favorites... Hotel, Playboy Mommy, Cruel, i i e e e, Northern Lad If anyone knows what those instruments are listed at the end, please let me know.

    Another comment...I'm glad "Cooling" has finally been released. If you haven't heard it yet, it's breathtaking, and will rank up there with my all time favorites. I never cry upon hearing songs, and as far from crying as I was, Cooling would be the closest thing to bringing tears the first time I heard it. Many people wish it had been included on FTCH, but I think it's best as a b-side. That song needs to have its own quiet place. I do think Bachelorette would have been a quirky, but nice addition to FCTH though. Eh? Feel free to e-mail me at cochran007@aol.com to discuss. Thanks.


    From Thewaydown

    May 19, 1998 - Ok. I think I've had this CD long enough to begin really digesting it now. First of all, I must say, it is great. Tori took a great step in the right direction with CGH. As much as I love Tori and Boys For Pele that record was a bit too wild, needed a little trimming around the edges, and bit of bite. But I do truly believe that Tori is now a girl with balls. Or maybe that's just a woman. This CD is neat, clean, provocative and interesting, if not incrediblly sad and danceable uplifting at the same time. I know you've seen these breakdowns a few (hundred) times before but maybe mine can offer some new insight.

    *SPARK* Great choice for a single. I've convinced every friend I have, no matter how offput by Tori, that this song is amazing. Love the "addicted to nicotine patches". It must be wierd to be addicted to trying to beat an addiction. Love the "how many fates" of course. So true. Gives the song a great kick. Love hearing "Swing Low" in the background. Mama always used to sing me to sleep with that one. Favorite part of the song......Tori saying "the bomb". It's so hysterical that I'm putting that phrase back into my vocabulary.

    %cruel% Tori does Garbage does Enigma does African Shaman does Trent Reznor. Someone please tell me what a Sufis is. It took me forever to find out Bogenvilla. I'm an uneducated fool I guess. This song is easy to gloss over and think you understand. I can't even guess yet what it really is about.

    &JANUARY& Opens up like Bells For Her. I think part of this is about her baby again. About how her child all ready lived on the "other side of the galaxy". I think this song is about what it's like to hide your fear or pain about something, and how you have to confront it. Blue Dress.......hmmmm......devil in a blue dress.....give away my blue dress......that just leaves the devil.

    @Raspberry Swirl@ This is the point in the record where I got so happy. I could just feel this big raspberry whirlpool sucking me under into a mad dancing wonderland where Tori finally just flat out rocks for a while. I think this song is amazing, and when people say it's not Tori, I'm like, huh, uh?, did you read the cover of the CD. This song is just like, hey, let's do it, but you better do it good.

    !Jackies Strength! Great and touching. Full out old school Tori here. Love it. I really like hearing the word Bouvier. If this song ever hits the airwaves it's going to become so popular that ever top 40 station in America will play it every five minutes. That would be great, and horrible. Let's not ruin a good thing by giving it to the masses. Go see THE HOUSE OF YES!

    ^iieee^ This song makes me wanna smoke a camel, then have sex, then regret it all. After Tori's first iieee's come in the song gets an added dimension that makes it sound like a movie soundtrack. I can just see Bill Paxton and Patricia Arquette running around throwing fire bombs in houses. "Why can't I be beautiful?" A question I ask daily. Reminds me of Jane's Addiction. I just wish Tori's arson streak in the song lasted a bit longer. I just have to keep rewinding that part and my stereo can't take it.

    (Liquid Diamonds) At first I hated this song. Too boring and repetitive. Now it's one of my favorites. Great drum intro. Love that like no other. The piano is really great, and haunting. I think in this song Tori is talking about having regresses almost to a place like where she was before Little Earthquakes. Maybe it was the loss of the baby that brought about this feeling. I think of her trapped underwater in this song, seaweed wraped in her hair, wondering when she'll ever be as great as she want's to be. A real Diamond, instead of liquid diamonds, which are worth nothing. But we all know she's a ruby. Slipper. Love the poker part in the song. She also talks about her dad in the end.

    $She's your Cocaine$ Woah. Lead Zep lives in a little red head from the south. This song is better than any rock song I've heard out in a long time. It made me realize just why I love Tori. I think this song is about a guy who just loves Tori so much he wants to be her. Tori is like, "Fuck off, you'll never be me, but it's amusing to watch you try." Tori could never be so mean. Right?

    _Northern Lad_ I'm not wet because of the rain. I'm wet because of this song. Took a while but now I cream every time. Too much info?

    +HOTEL+ As wierd as Norman Bates. I finally like this song, and it all pays off when it gets to the Velvets. I wanna dance to it, but I'll wait for the remix.

    ~Playboy Mommy~ Little Amsterdam with some southern fried sadness. So bitter sweet I lost a tooth. Will put this song on every mix tape I make from now till the next CD.

    ?Pandora's Aquarium? Great Toriesque intro of chamber music into something suitable for Eartha Kit. Go Tor. Rock that funky jazz.

    Great Good Love it Yes. I need a thesauras. And probably a dictionary. This CD is just Everything You Love AND Need From Mrs. Amos Wrapped Up To Keep You Alive For The Next Two Years. A brief note to all the people who don't like the "new" Tori or think she is being a traitor. Do you expect her to keep coming back every time with the same old predictable results to keep us all happy. Then she would be just like all these other artists who invade the top 40 with no talent in their pocket. She said it best herself. "I am not asking you to believe in me. Boy I think you're confused, I'm not Persephone" If she was, maybe she too would be in New York checking those accounts while we all choked down the same stuff she had been offering us since day one.

    Get with it. This CD rocks. Thanks for your time.


    From Paige B.

    May 19, 1998 - I honestly expected much more from this album; I don't feel the idea of Tori experimenting with new sounds and studio trickery to enhance her songwriting style as opposed to distracting from it was fully realized on this album nor does it live up to its potential. It is, however, an extremely intruiging album that has reached its way to my CD player countless times since May 5th. Ironically, after all the discussion of Tori's new 'plugged' sound and dance influence, the songs that really *got* me where the ones where Tori simply allowed her awe-inspiring musicianship and sultry voice to shine.

    Spark: This is one of the few songs where I can see the claims about the album being sonically similar to Radiohead's 'OK Computer' getting justified. The song itself is very strong and the lyrics rank among the most arresting on the album, but the band is simply too soft to really leave an impact on me. If she's going to cause a commotion about integrating a band into 'choirgirl hotel', I say she should have gone the full nine. But, regaurdless of my personal yearning to see Tori rage PJ Harvey-style, it's a lovely song and a wonderful opener.

    Cruel: The Peter Gabriel-esque baroque feel of this one would normally send me running for the hills, but her vocal performance on this track is so incredibly sexy that it's near impossible not to be sucked into it despite the dorky backdrop music. It is, however, reminicent of Paula Cole in a somewhat dark mood and that is an extremely frightening thought.

    Black Dove (January): A subtle number that eventually creeps its way into your consciousness. The blunted piano evokes 'Bells For Her' off UTP, but it's much more melodically advanced and it's simply exquisite when the band kicks in on the chorus. The lyrics are very cryptic, though, and it's most likely another hopelessly insular Tori song that's going to provoke oodles of arguments among Toriphiles because she left so many oppertunities for the listener to fill in the holes in the story. One of my favorites on the album.

    Rasberry Swirl: I'm personally thrilled that Tori has begun to experiment with her songwriting style and different sounds since I'm always going to advocate spiritual and artistic growth, but this song came very close to making be reconsider my philosophy. The 'dance' beat is bland and could be found in practically and old house record that stinks, while the lyrics simply seem to be incoherent. It's truly a shame when someone writes a song so weak that the author has to distract the listener from the song, and it's even more devestating when Tori does this.

    Jackie's Strength: Hands down one of the most beautiful songs Tori's ever written. The strings are remarkably arranged on this song and the lyrics rank among Tori's best. Favorite line: 'Stickers licked on lunchboxes worshipping David Cassidy/Yeah, I mooned him once on Donna's box/She's stille in recovery.' Definitely my favorite song on the album; it was such a relief to see Tori revert back to her old self for awhile.

    iieee: Saying that I appreciate this song on any level would be a very hollow claim. Although it is the one song on the album where the electronic influence melds with Tori's classic style smoothly, it sounds forced and fails to develop anything worth listening to a second time. It's monotonus and boring. I can begin to see where Tori's detractors are coming from with their opinions after listening to this song.

    Liquid Diamonds: Her biggest misstep on the album is this song. Too unpleasant and bold to send you into a trance and too messy to be considered an actual song, it meanders for awhile and then thankfully goes away never to be heard of or thought of again. The lyrics are intruiging but the song is light years away from doing them justice.

    She's Your Cocaine: Again, this is the result of Tori not knowing how to rage properly. It's a bit like a tune from a Disney movie that took a wrong turn down Crossdressers Road. I've always felt that Tori was at her best when she unknowingly took on what was considered taboo or risque material, but it backfires big time when she consciously tries to be shocking. The song itself isn't much to speak of; a 'rock' melody that's already been chewed up and spit out by innumerable musicians before her and a weak sonic backdrop that makes the song even more unbearable. It's apparent that Tori had some parts of her that knew how to rock out like nothing you've ever seen before, but if this song is any indictation, those parts have up and died.

    Northern Lad: Definitely one of the most dissapointingly bland songs on the album; the melody is shaky and never really gets anywhere while Tori mumbles the whirling lyrics. It does, however, contain a classic Tori line: 'Girls, you gotta know when it's time to turn the page/When you're only wet because of the rain.'

    Hotel: A very ameturish 'electronica' influenced song that proudly displays a complete disregaurd for the integrity of the genre. Avoid at all costs.

    Playboy Mommy: The highlight of the latter part of the album. The smoky lounge feel is a nice break from the disastrous experimental tracks that preceed it. The vocals on this track are utterly delicious. A definite gem.

    Pandora's Aquarium: Tori's voice on this isn't stirring nor is it tolerable; it's unbelievably annoying and distracts from the rest of the song, which is mediocre Tori material. The lyrics, however, lean dangerously close to being self-parodying.

    Frankly, I think Tori should perhaps learn a little more about electronic music before delving into it so boldly. She clearly operates on what simple and derivative ancient house beats mainstream culture has fed her, and it doesn't flatter her writing at all. The album is at its best when Tori compromises her 'plugged' ambitions for the sake of writing a great song. And, for the third time, she needs to look to Polly Harvey or Bjork to realize what she's trying to accomplish with tracks like Cruel and She's Your Cocaine; she's much to reserved in most of her songs to let the beast run free and she's definitely at her most gripping when she sacrifices her inhabitions and simply emotes. She might be becoming a tad too elusive and vauge for her own good as far as lyrics go. Is it worth giving up accessibility and coherence just to prove how clever you are? I'd personally love to listen to a few Tori songs where I'm able to understand what she's singing about on a first listen.

    On a more positive note, she's definitely reclaimed her title as one of music's most compelling women with this album and I'm looking forward to seeing where she moves to from here. It'll no doubt be facinating.


    From Stephanie Kirk

    May 19, 1998 - I've been a Tori fan since 1992. At the time, I was in either seventh or eighth grade, but I simply adored her. Little Earthquakes. . . it was, honestly, the album that changed my life. I knew that this woman was a poet. I collected all of the LE singles, saw her perform at this "bar" (actually a converted warehouse), and never tired of hearing SATY or H.imh. Then Under the Pink came out. I realized that perhaps she didn't want to be a poet and my interest began to fade. When Pele came out, well, let's just say that I was so disappointed with Pele that I swore that I'd never buy another album by Tori again. Fortunately, although I certainly can talk the talk, I didn't have the strength to walk the walk. I bought choirgirls this Wednesday.

    I love this album. At first I simply didn't hate it, then I began to like it, and now I love it. Okay, it's not Little Earthquakes, but, I mean, let's get real here-- she's never going back there again. But these songs are beautiful nonetheless. From songs like Playboy Mommy and Jackie's Strength, which have restored my faith in Tori as a lyricist, to songs like Cruel, Rasberry Swirl, and Hotel, which are musically fascinating. I know that I'll probably be beaten for saying this, but Hotel reminds me so much of Kate Bush (esp. when she sings "I have to learn. . .") that it became an instant favorite (for a split second I actually thought it was Kate supplying the backing vocals). . . I love the guitar on Jackie's Strength. . . She's Your Cocaine cracks me up and, more importantly, it rocks! And my favorite is Playboy Mommy. This song is brilliant any way you cut it. Incredibly jazzy, incredibly moving, and incredibly credible-- I dare you not to feel her pain. So there you have it. I guess part of the reason I've been so impressed with it is because I was so prepared to be disappointed. I'm almost ashamed that I love it so much, but hey: this is a great album.


    From Jerry and Roger

    May 19, 1998 - Well, after getting the album, we posted our original thoughts to the D.C. Tori mailing list and were told to listen to the album more before we solidified our opinion - so, we did. It didnt change anything! :-)

    Basically, there are a few issues we would like to comment upon, as opposed to reviewing each individual song. First, we're saddened by the direction this album seems to have taken. It's hard not to think that there was an underlying (or maybe even blatant) attempt to appeal to the masses by following the current trend and going electronic. Hey, just because Madonna did it doesnt make it O.K...Honestly, we dont feel it's really the Tori that we learned to love, thanks to LE and UTP (and BFP to a lesser extent). There is a very obvious emotional connection that we feel is lost with the album - as a few (the minority, or only those willing to say what they really think instead of trying to go along with the popular sentiment?) fans stated (Brett, sean, etc) there is a level of depth and introspection that simply is not here. The lyrics are accessible to the point of being shallow, banal and even outright dull.

    The woman who once sang "a little blubber in my igloo" is now singing "it gets so fucking cold" - it's really obvious to us that there's a difference! Even when she previously stated something clearly in a song (ex. Putting the damage on..) she would intersperse it with something far more abstract as a parrallel. Now it's "i am not from your tribe.." and it makes us thinnk that the old Tori could have found a far more interesting way to say that.

    As a person, we adore Tori as we always have but...maybe it's harder to write deeper lyrics when you're so happy, as she is now. Some of the greatest songwriters wrote their greatest stuff when they were the most miserable. As far as the dance thing (Raspberry Swirl)- all we have to say is SELL OUT. Tori and dance music do NOT go together - i'm sorry but we would never THINK of putting on a Tori song to DISCO to. The thought of it is actually sickening!

    We think that this album will appeal to a lot of the younger, newer, possibly less appreciative fans, and that a lot of people may actually be forcing themselves into liking this, for sake of being COOL or something. Look, we love Tori, but we don't have to like her musical decisions - nor should fans force themselves into thinking the album is cool, just to stay a true fan. Life is cyclical and we think that eventually, Tori will return to the piano in a way (LITTLE earhquakes) that inspired her to leave behind the high heels and hairspray of YKTR days in the first place In summation, the change is a bad thing and we want our old Tori back - people who say the girl with the piano thing is old are truly neglecting something very intense and emotional that occurs when those two are together. Sorry, but we don't like it. Anyone willing to admit the same?


    From Mark "Tigger" Ramsden

    May 19, 1998 - Ii think that from the choirgirl hotel is one of the best things tori has done. I'm still having to adjust to it - it just floored me.

    SPARK - perfect, nice guitars and vocal. it just sort of takes you away into a nice headspace

    CRUEL - cool lyrics, weird music. I just love the way she sings "i can be cruel"

    Black dove - fantastic intriguing lyrics and more piano. Iilove the chorus and the Texas bit

    RASPBERRY SWIRL - the sort of dancey type song that kicks some ass. This song has got me into trouble with my neighbours as i think that it sounds better LOUD.So my neighbours came up and asked me to turn it down so i just turned it up as it swirls and it swirls???

    JACKIES STRENGTH - LOvely strings and a really tori type concept. Tthe vocals are amazing and the emotion just drips like really thick luxuriois honey.

    IIEEE - SORT of not my fave track, but the phrasing is really powerful and this should be interesting to see live. i adore the "little arsonist" bit the vocals are just wicked

    LIQUID DIAMONDS - not made my mind up but i love the chorus bit and the backing is fantastique

    SHES YOUR COCAINE - oh my, this is one of my fave tracks. The lyrics and the band really gel, reminds me a tiny bit of Led Zep but it is so tori.the kick in after the "all the devils look like you" made me feel like i did when i heard precious things and honey - a little bit closer to paradise

    NORTHERN LAD - i really like this, lush piano and nice vocals.should be a killer live

    HOTEL - this really reminds me of Space Dog. Don't like the blips and beeps but i like the constant rephrasing

    PLAYBOY MOMMY - THIS is the best song , really and truely. Every time i play it , it makes me cry. Everything about it is amazing , tori has broken my heart before with songs but this is the best. The lyrics are so sad and her voice is just pure and dripping with heartache

    PANDORAS AQUARIUM - really good but a bit of a strange choice to finish the album with , a bit Anatasia and i like the voice and lyrics. The piano features more

    The album is really cool, more accessible than Pele and i can feel it taking me over. Can't wait to see her live now in Manchester and Liverpool in the UK.


    From MTW

    May 19, 1998 - This what I have to say about "From the Choirgirl Hotel"

    It is wonderful.

    Some of you other hard core fans just need to grow up and realize that Tori has matured.

    I don't see why everyone is so shocked. Every album has been an enormous change for Tori. In "Little Earthquakes" Tori sounded so much like a timid little girl. I love the album, but it's true. And then when Under The Pink came. It was so obvious that she had matured into a strengthened woman. And "God" and "Past the Mission" remind me alot of Choirgirl's sound. Then Boys For Pele came. It was so dark and beautiful at the same time. And it was very different.. and it was obvious that Tori had matured even more. I was ready for Tori's next step in life.

    That's why we all love Tori, right? She's unpredictable. One moment she's whispering and the next moment she's wailing...(ie Pretty Good Year). This next step she has taken is gorgeous. And Tori has abandoned no one... She has just matured(again).

    We all know Tori's music is influenced by her experience. And these past years have been quite an experience. I mean, i personally never thought that Tori would get married anytime soon, nor did i ever think she'd add electronic beauty to her music, but she proved me wrong, and i'm glad..

    "From The Choirgirl Hotel" is Tori's art, it's beautiful. Andy Warhol's paintings don't all look the same, just like Tori's albums don't all sound the same, they shouldn't. Give Tori a break!! She has abandoned no one!! You have abandoned her. You have broken away that trust that she has for you!!


    From Kelly Dobkin

    May 19, 1998 - I've had this album in my hands for about a week and I think I'm ready to give my review.

    First of all, this album didn't totally blow me away like i thought it would. I mean, its pretty different, but yet, its still tori and I wasn't totally weirded out. I think that this album's title completely summarizes the contents. Tori was dead on when she said something like: " its a bunch of different girls, not necessarily ones that have much in common, just a mix of all kinds of girls in the hotel." That's what i get from this. I mean underneath I feel something that kind of links them all together. This album is just bursting with so many different musical styles and I think with this album now we can really see tori's musical evolution.

    I have to say though, at first, I didn't like this album. I started to kind of rationalize why I wasn't really liking it. But like Boys for Pele, this album took me a little bit of time to adjust to and I'm sure I'll adjust further in the next year or so. I'm to the point where I can pretty much belt out most of the songs and hum the melodies distinctly.

    Some great songs: my fave is jackie's strength, it makes me sad. Its reminiscent of pretty good year and that kind of feathery light song that always seems to be on every tori album. Its very beautiful. Black dove is really breathtaking too, and its one of the few songs where tori has a short little "jam" time, you know with those piano solos that you jirate to at her concerts. Its just everything in one. It also kind of reminds me of pretty good year. The soft and the loud contrast.

    Playboy mommy is so cool. Its so tori but yet it reminds me of so many others at the same time. Tori's roots are really evident in theis album. With the led zeppelin/marvin gaye and even trent reznor like hints in it. Spark is great too, I loved it when I first heard it.

    And I cannot stop listening to cruel, its so addicting, like the slow beat, and I love all the techno influences on this album. iiieee is amazing too. They're all great, but I haven't gotten to into "hotel" for some reason. The rest of the songs are ok.

    Well, in my opinion, tori has done it again. This is by far her most creative album to date and I really think she's growing in a good way. Though sometimes I still miss the little earthquake days. Like the straight tori of like under the pink. But I think through time, I will grow to feel the same way about this one.


    From Cami

    May 19, 1998 - Here is my sort of choirgirl review. Actually I'm not much of a music reviewer at all. I don't know usually what I'm really talking about, but I know what I like and don't like, and sometimes have vague explanations for it.

    Spark: Mmm. I think I've heard it too much. I really love it though, really, I just skip it a lot because it's about all I listened to for a week and a half before I got the CD. The "how many fates" part, that's got to be one of my favorite things in the whole CD.

    Cruel: I liked it right away but then liked it less later. I still like it, but I don't think it's the greatest anymore. I think it reminds me a little bit of something that I really like and I can't think of what it is. I think it's a song off the Mission:Impossible soundtrack.

    Black Dove: I love this song so much. Well actually I'm not fond of the "have to get to texas" part. But I love the sound of the piano. I'm driving my roommate crazy cranking this up.

    Raspberry Swirl: The theme amuses me to no end (in a good way). It's pretty cool. I feel like I should turn it down at the end so random people going by don't think I'm watching pornos or something. I think the backbeat gets a tad repetitive unfortunately.

    Jackie's Strength: I like it, but I think it's something my mom would like. You know, if it wasn't by Tori, I probably wouldn't like it, but would like it secretly after a long time and not want to admit it. Maybe no one knows what I'm talking about there, but I think you do. It's very adult contemporary or whatever that category is called. Better, though. I don't like the "eh jackie yeh" stuff though. It's a bit out of place, to me.

    iieee: Okay so I have no idea what order the songs go in really. This is my guess of next. I didn't like it right away but I love it so much now!! What the hell is it about though? Someone said they thought it was about ecstacy, was that someone here? Did I spell ecstacy right?

    Liquid Diamonds: Little weird sounds in here give me flashbacks to Further Down the Spiral. Actually this song is really boring to me right now.

    She's Your Cocaine: Wow, it's so 70s rock, and I love 70s rock, and it's also Tori, and duh I like her too, I like this song!!

    Northern Lad: Hey the song ordering on this CD is driving me crazy, it's completely messed up. I have to listen to it on shuffle. I like this song, the lyrics are pretty easy to relate to for a huge number of people so everyone will like this. Musically, though it's not incredibly interesting.

    Hotel: I love this song. I think it's the lyrics. I just get this feeling of some distant mysterious sort of memory thing, well never mind, I can't possibly tell you what the hell I'm talking about, but it also kind of made me think of On the Road. I don't know why. There's a total story there, and it's so special.

    Playboy Mommy: I'm sorry but the drum line and the melody here are so incredibly Jewel-esque that I can hardly take it. (I'm really not into Jewel) Luckily parts of it are good enough, like the hosanah part, that I can say I don't hate it. I also am not fond of the title.

    Pandora's Aquarium: I'm surprised so many people have said they don't like this song. I really love it. It's so nice and laid-back and I think it's a lot more like BFP than anything else on the CD so I thought everyone would take to it pretty well. Of course it would have been like one of those songs on BFP that no one liked until half a year after the CD came out.


    From Brett B.

    May 19, 1998 - I went and bought FTCGH the day it came out. I couldn't wait to hear it. When I finally gave it a listen, I was very surprised! This album is so non-Tori. I hate that! What happened to the old "girl and the piano" thing! Here is a run- down of all of the songs:

    Spark: 8 (out of 10) I like this song and the background vocals. But it is a little depressing. It's O.K.

    Cruel: 6 Where is the piano???!!!?!?!??

    Black Dove (January): 7 Pretty, but a little repetitious. Don't you think?

    Raspberry Swirl: 4 This song sucks (for Tori at least)!! Why, why,why,why,why?!?

    Jackie's Strength: 8 Very nice.

    iieee: 9 I love it!! But the part where it gets loud("just say yes...), is too LOUD. The distorted vocals give me a fucking headache. Other than that, I like it a lot.

    Liquid Diamonds: 6 It is ok, but it will take a while.

    She's Your Cocaine: 5 It sounds too much like "God"!!!! I don't like "God"! It is very repetitious. This one will also take a while.

    Northern Lad: 3 This song also sucks!!!! Boring,boring,boring,why,why,why???!??!?!

    Hotel: 4 Too many rhythm changes. "Give me more......" is very annoying. This song is terrible. It will not grow on me!

    Playboy Mommy: 5 It is ok. There's nothing more to say about this song.

    Pandora's Aquarium: 1 This song does not deserve to be put on this album! What the fuck was Tori thinking? This song is not only repetitious, but it is annoying and boring. I really don't like it at all!

    OVERALL: 4 I don't like it as much as her past three albums. Actually it is at the bottom of my Tori cd list. The very bottom.


    From Miriam

    May 19, 1998 - I know that you already have millions (well maybe not that many) of reviews but i thought i would add my two cents. I've listened to it many times because Tori's music always needs to time to grow on me so that i can understand it. I feel a bit of sadness for the lack of prominent piano on this album but i also feel that we have to support Tori in experimenting because she will most likely return to the piano (at least eventually). Okay now for this album.

    Spark: It's hard to say because I'm already so sick of this one. But i do love it.

    Cruel: It is beginning to grow on me. I find it a bit repetitive but i really like certain parts of it.

    Black-Dove: I LOVE it. The piano is fantastic and the loud part fits so perfectly.

    Raspberry Swirl: The first time i heard it i just laughed all the way through. I think we have to take this one with a sense of humor. It was Tori saying i just want to have some fun. But i also love the lyrics, rythym and how much she puts into this song. I'm not sure if it could even become a hit because it might offend some.

    Jackie's Strength: One of my favourites. My favourite part is the, "stickers licked on lunch boxes..." section. I think the arrangement of strings is beautiful.

    Liquid Diamonds: I couldn't stand it at first but now i love it. I think the chorus is very interesting.

    She's you Cocaine: Sorry to say but I hate it. I have given it many tries. The chorus is the only part that is tolerable. The beginning is so flat sounding and unimaginative. I'm just glad that it is the only one like it on the album.

    Northern Lad: Love it. It makes me cry. It is so gorgeous.

    Hotel: I like it. It is not my favourite but it has some really good parts. The structure reminds me a bit of Yes Anastasia.

    Pandora's Aquarium: For some reason this song has not really stuck with me or made an impression. I neither love it or hate it.

    Overall, I think it is a great album, not her best but compared to the other music out there today it is very good. I like the artwork especially the blue photos and the ones with her and the other girls. I think this album is more mainstream but she still could not fill the amphitheatres where she is booked to play this summer in North America. I have to say that the CD does not do the album justice. I saw her it Toronto for the promo club tour and ALL the songs sounded hundreds of times better. I think the worst the about the FTCGH era is that she is playing stadiums that hold 16 000 people (at least in Toronto) and I think this will ruin the amazing intimacy that we are so used to.


    From Ari Berenstein

    May 19, 1998 - On May 5th 1998, at 1:00p.m. My good friends Frank; Tracey and I went to Sam Goody in Manhattan to pick up our reserved copies of From the Choirgirl Hotel (Heretofore affectionately referred to as FTCH). All day in school all I could say to my friends was "TORI TORI TORI". I was as they say, overly excited. I picked up the album and also received a lyric book and poster. I took the train back by myself (Frank and Tracey were going to see Hanson at Hammerstein Ballroom-uggh). I got back to my house unwrapped the album and opened it up. The first thing I noticed was the cute little map in the first two pages of the booklet. With such cute little landmarks as "Nautical Nuns Casino" and "Toodles [Mr. Jim] Pass", how could you not love it? The booklet itself had many intricacies like gatefold spreads and weird out of order spacing of the lyrics. No wonder they gave us another lyric book!

    Onto the songs, one by one:

    Spark: By the time FTCH had been released I had already fallen in love with this song. Starting off with a haunting guitar riff, Tori's voice releases the words "She's addicted to nicotine patches/She's addicted to nicotine patches/She's afraid of the light in the dark.6: 58 are you sure where my Spark is?/ Here here here". The interlude brings out Tori's piano as she screams; "How many fates turn around in the overtime/Ballerinas that have fins that you'll never find/you thought you were the bomb/ yes well so did I/ Say you don't want it say you don't want it". It felt like a giant roller coaster ride that rises to its peak and comes flying down the track at maximum velocity! The song is flat out incredible.

    Cruel: This song needs to grow on me, because it is not one of my favorites. Tori's lyrics are there but the music is really hard to get into. It's interesting, but it just doesn't seem to really fit.

    Black Dove (January): On the other hand, the words and music work together beautifully in this song. Tori's voice does it perfect justice especially when she sings "by the woods". This is one song that the band and Tori work very cohesively together.

    Raspberry Swirl: Very techno-dance. Not incredibly personal musically, and Tori's voice seems to be lost in the swirl of techno notes and beats. It is very catchy though, and the song does have some good points: when Tori starts singing "things are getting desperate" she meshes incredibly with the beat and that carries well towards the next verse. The cute little word play "if you want inside her you've better make her raspberry Swirl " is incredibly cute (being redundant here, sorry) and poetic. It works but stillųtoo techno-y.

    Jackie's Strength: this song makes me feel the soulful emotions I had from listening to Tori's previous albums. It's quiet but it moves very quickly. Tori's piano is very visible and the band again works well in this song. I especially like when she lilts her voice and sings "annnn jackie ah annnn jackie ah annnnn jackie's ah strength". The words are very playful "I got lost on my wedding day/typical/the police came"

    Iieee: It starts out very quiet but builds up a lot of momentum. I like this song a lot, except for those little hints of techno (my dislike of techno will be a very recurring theme here, see hotel below). The most beautiful part of the song comes from when her voice lifts up and sings "I know we're dying and there's no sign of a parachute/ we scream in cathedral's/why can't it be beautiful/ why does there/gotta be a sacrifice" the distortion in the middle of the song doesn't work for me but otherwise it's a great song.

    Liquid Diamonds: Very murky and lots of base, but the music invokes some great imagery. Tori sings the song it seems with all of the pain she experienced over the baby, as if everything is meant to come out of the interpretation. It's pretty, but again overly dark.

    She's Your Cocaine: Wow definitely one of the more engrossing girls on the album, the song sucks you in and doesn't let go. The band is best utilized in this song out of any other song on the album except for maybe Spark. Tori herself is exceptional, she is incredibly into the song with a passionately vengeful attitude slamming out the words "Bring your sister if you can't handle it" "I'm writing good checks/you sign Price of darkness/try squire of dimness".

    Northern Lad: A quiet incredibly rapturous song. I love it so much. The piano is emphasized while the sound of the band is faint, and it definitely helps the song. I believe that Tori does realize when and when not to use the grand scale effects and volume of the band, otherwise I doubt this song and Playboy Mommy would have been totally different.

    Hotel: Techno. Techno. Techno. UGGH. Ok well actually the song isn't that bad, but its starts off incredibly badly, on the wrong note. The techno beat does not in anyway match with Tori's voice in the beginning of the song. Not one bit. The song does manage to save itself a smidgen when Tori sings "I have to learn/ to let you crash down" This is where the music matches with the song, but its there and gone in a matter of seconds. Towards the end of the song that right beat returns and it gets better towards the end when she sings "where are the velvets/when you're coming down". The song ends with some cute Base notes slowly ending the song. Tori's lyrics are there, **sigh** If only the techno were notų

    Playboy Mommy: Dead on perfect. My favorite song of the album hands down. I don't know what to say about the song it's just too indescribable. I just get so totally into it. Just listen to it and you'll know what I mean. It is the only song on the album to make me fully break down and cry.

    Pandora's Aquarium: The album ends with this song. Tori sings it sort of like she's in a jazz bar or something, but it ends up giving the song a very mature personality. The way Tori pronounces "Aquarium" is a little hard to swallow, but otherwise very well done. The way the chorus "Ripples come and ripples go and ripple back to me" is sung will take your breath away. "Lord of the Flies was diagnosed as Sound"- I have a feeling the album was meant to end on that note.

    Summation: Like I've previously said I wish the techno/electronica did not come into play here. The album is very different than her previous three, Little Earthquakes, Under The Pink, and Boys for Pele and that is good but the album leaves me thinking she could've done better. The album in and of itself is great and like I have said over and over to my friends,Tori is Tori is Tori and any Tori is good Tori, but its no comparison with her previous efforts. Little Earthquakes is practically holy ground to me. Spark, Black Dove and She's your Cocaine show how the band should be utilized but that doesn't happen often enough. The best songs are Playboy Mommy Northern Lad and Jackie's Strength, songs with a blunted, diminished band feel or really no band in there at all. I really hope that Tori's next album does not have that full band feel in there, no offense to the musicians, they do a good job but to me its always gonna be Tori's show. Thats it for me, thanks for reading.


    From "Wazzu"

    May 19, 1998 - Much as I truly love Tori, I have serious problems with her songwriting, and from the choirgirl hotel exemplifies some of them perfectly.

    First -- WHY must Tori break many of her songs so completely, abruptly shifting them into a completely unrelated form? For example, "Past the Mission" has grown on me, but let's be honest -- it's two songs stuck together. Tori seems to lack the discipline to tie a song together coherently. Or else she just can't stop rebelling. Can't make a conventionally beautiful song, oh no... wouldn't want it to be easily accessible! This tendency seems to have become a bad habit. It once served a catharitic or dramatic purpose (it works well in LE, or "Pretty Good Year"), but the loud Texas section in "Black Dove," for example, or the middle section in "She's Your Cocaine" feel obligatory to me, even forced. Just when I'm about to love a song, she's throws something icky in the mix... why, Tori? :( I wouldn't be nearly as disappointed if I didn't think that otherwise she could be writing the best music out there. This is partly why I don't think the new album is as graspable as the press reviews indicate. (They probably just hear instruments they're used to and sigh with relief.)

    Another problem is her often cryptic, self-absorbed, or wildly meandering lyrics. Call me an old-fashioned purist, but I believe songs that last need to communicate more than just an atmosphere or a good groove. Tori has the power to write gorgeous, classic songs, but misses every time with her obscure references. Maybe her sassy "girls" keep resisting the idea of being too traditional! from the choirgirl hotel is better than others in this respect, but what's going on in "Jackie's Strength?" Many 'philes have written in crowing about this song. Besides the fact that I find it melodically uninspiring, I'm consistently annoyed by her bellybutton glances at her past. Honestly, WHO CARES? (Well... it seems a lot of people care... but *I* don't! ;) There's nothing wrong with words painting pictures, or tone poems... but this kind of writing seems lazy and boring to me. Besides, I don't share any Kennedy fascinations -- especially not a Jackie fascination. If you're looking for a strong, inspiring woman try Eleanor Roosevelt.

    While I'm having fun bitching, let me add that if one more journalist calls Tori a "Lilith-style artist" I'm gonna spontaneously combust. HELLO? There were women musicians before some media-friendly festival of female folkies.

    On a positive note, the overall album's good. I won't bother to write about what I like; I'm sure it's all been said here many times. But "Cruel," "iiieee," "Playboy Mommy" -- yeah! Rock on, Tori.

    If anyone is on this wavelength (or thinks I'm totally nuts), feel free to write at ves2@psu.edu.


    From Melanie Watts

    May 19, 1998 - Okay, here goes... The skeptic, one of maybe three people who didn't like Spark, loves "from the choirgirl hotel" (FtCGH). I had to warm up to it, and realize that Tori is changing with or without us, so once I got over mourning the end of The Girl And Her Piano, I opened up to Tori's fourth album. The way I see it, FtCGH isn't as intimate as the others, you know, Little Earthquakes is my best friend, but FtCGH is so much more sensual (as my friend Britt observed). IMO, one CANNOT compare the four albums to one another, esp. the new one w/others, because they're just too different.

    About the songs-- Raspberry Swirl took getting used to-- what reeled me in was the line "I am not your senorita". Hotel reminds me of an interview or quote or something I read in which Tori said she's just a girl with a really good (albeit f**ked-up) sense of rhythm. That messed-up mastery of The Beat is inherent here. For some reason Pandora's Aquarium sounds like it could blend in with the girls on BfP very well.

    About the artwork--now I want some feedback here-- isn't anybody else bothered by the fact that, in several places, namely on the inside bottom cover (under the CD holder itself), SHE'S FLIPPING US OFF??? I saw that and thought, "hey, what did I do?" (ha, ha). I also wanted to point out that the artwork that everyone else sees as Tori being photocopied, to me, looks more like an unusually clear *sonogram.* Or maybe just those pictures of fetuses you see in science books. With that voided black background, you know. . . Am I looking for somehting that's not there, or what?

    On a final note, I realized something a couple of weeks ago when I was reading the review of the Fla. concert in which Tori ran offstage sick, and came back on to play Cooling for the first time. The date was late October, right? She was *pregnant* then-- no wonder she wasn't feeling well! Was she having complications so soon???

    But I digress. Thanks for letting me suck up bandwidth and a few moments of precious time!


    From Kathy Stancar

    May 19, 1998 - okay. so, i've listened to the new album about ten times since i bought it tuesday, and i guess it's time for me to put my "two cents worth" in.

    spark-- this song is really great. i heard it in march for the first time, and i immediately liked it. i love the piano suite in the middle when she breaks into the "fates" verse. and i really think the band is a good addition, but it doesn't take away from it all. 10

    cruel-- i like this one too. it sticks with you. the intro is really different, and i like that. 9

    black-dove-- one of my favorites. i love her vocalization in this one, and the part when she sings "by the woods..." is really great. 10

    raspberry swirl-- extrememly different tori, but i like the change. it makes me want to get up and dance. 8.5

    jackie's strength-- i love this one. it reminds me of marianne, but it's unique too. i love the part when she sings "you're only popular with anorexia..." it really brings out the emotions of trying to be perfect. this one really stays with me, and i like the "balladness" to it. 10

    iieee-- i like this one a lot, but it's still growing on me. i like when she breaks into "just say yes..." it wasn't something i expected from this song. 7

    liquid diamonds-- not my favorite. it's just really weird, almost too different. it almost seems forced. then again, there are a lot of songs of tori's that i didn't like on the first listen, and now they're my favorites, so this one may grow on me. 5

    she's your cocaine-- another one that's not a favorite, but it is growing on me too. it just doesn't seem tori, but the lyrics are very tori. i love the part where she starts singing "and is it true..." it almost sounds like light elevator music at first, and then the melody is great. 6.5

    northern lad-- this song reminds me of hey jupiter and baker baker in a way, because it's so sad. it reminds me a lot of my life lately. 9

    hotel-- i did not like this one a first, but now i find myself almost singing along. it's got a catchy, technoy groove that's pretty different. 7.5

    playboy mommy-- this one is one of my favorites. it's really sad, and the emotion is so present, but it's also got a nice bluesy sound. i love the "gloria" part. 10

    pandora's aquarium-- my least favorite. i don't like the intro, but the part about "line me up..." is pretty good. i feel like i'm forcing myself to like this one. i don't think it should be at the end of the album, because it makes me want to go to sleep. 4

    overall, i love the album. it's a great change, and i still think she's being true to herself and her style. it's extremely different, but i felt that way about pele when it first came out, and now it's one of my favorite cds of all time (tied with le, of course).


    From pandora's hotel

    May 19, 1998 - i hated the cd the first time i heard it but now i love it so i think if you really are ear(s) with feet you'll give it another chance. on every album there was a song or two i hated but now i love. on LE there was Leather and Mother (i should be slapped!), on UTP there was The Wrong Band and Yes Anastasia (i love that one!! ahh!), and on Boys For Pele there was Not The Red Baron, Marianne, AND Putting The Damage On (i'm hitting myself now..) i think on this one there WAS (i've gotten over them) Hotel and Jackie's Strength. yada yada yada, now what your really reading this for.....

    SPARK - i love it even though i've already listened to the shitty WAV file recording 50 billion times. i love the chorus and every time i hear the bridge i see the car exploding and Tori climbing up the hill with that snarling look on her face.

    CRUEL - whoever said this song sounds like Sleep To Dream by Fiona Apple was RIGHT(!). The beat, the disjointed vocals and lyrics. i love it, it's very mischievious and when i hear it i think of a really cloudy day.

    BLACK DOVE (JANUARY) - ooh ooh!! the first time i heard i was a little disapointed but now I LOVE IT!! when she says "in that scary house by the woods" i think of fairy tales and elves. it sounds like she's singing from the point of view of a little girl who's standong outside the house of the Professional Widow (is there a hidden meaning to "Cosmic Cottage"?). That catchy line "but i have to go to Texas" has a very special meaning to me SO I LOVE IT MORE!!

    RASPBERRY SWIRL - a lot of Toriphiles hate this song but i think it's cool. it sounds like it's about fucking: "if you want inside her". not that long ago there was an expression that never really caught on...it was something like "raspberry" meaning "tongue". so in that line she's probably talking about tonguing someone down.

    JACKIE'S STRENGTH - everybody loves this song and thinks that it sounds like Marianne. everybody's gonna hate me for saying this but....no. the chorus is a little over-orchestrated and the begining sounds like Ben Folds Five. has anybody ever seen that "diamonds are forever" commmercial with the two people's shadows dancing around and then the guy slips the ring on the girl, execept it's not the shadow of the ring it's the real ring? probably not. but anyway the strings in the chorus keep reminding me of the music in that commercial. otherwise the lyrics are good.

    I I E E E - i love this song!! it's gotta very tribal feel, especially with the "i i eee"s in the background. my only complaint is that beat sounds a little like Cruel.

    LIQUID DIAMONDS - the first (and second) time i heard this song i didn't like it. i didn't like the lyrics cause they were kind of naive - "it's plain to see it is rising". now i don't mind it as much. i like the intro and that "surrender/then start your engines". this song always reminds me of water.

    SHE'S YOUR COCAINE - LOVE IT! the lyrics are the best part of the song! especially "you sign prince of darkness/try squire of dimness"...ooh, harsh! it sounds so much different than any other Torisong. the crazy guitars sorta remind me of the circus or something.

    HOTEL - this is the WIERDEST SONG on the album! i was having trouble following it the first few times i heard it cause it was kinda random. now i really like it. it sounds like Yes Anastasia with a faster tempo and some techno stuff.

    PLAYBOY MOMMY - i've only listened to this song like three times so i can't really say what it's like. it is very bluesy and really sad. when i saw the title i thought it would be really techno and dancy. toward the end it sounds a little like country, but not that much don't be scared!! it's really sad when she says "come home"

    PANDORA'S AQUARIUM - this song has such a cool title. it's more "classic Tori" than anything else on the album and it also has some Yes Anastasia influences. it's very eerie and there are some disturbing lines like "but i can taste/you're still alive below the waste"..ooooh. cool.

    WAIT!!!!!!!! there was a neil song ("where are the velvets" - hotel), but every album has a Nine Inch Nails/Trent Reznor song and there's NONE ON THIS ALBUM!!!!


    From Kenneth Peterson (posted to precious-things mailing list)

    May 19, 1998 - This is my little diddy about ftcgh... in short, I love it. I think this has got to be my new favorite tori album. I bought it a week ago, and havent stopped listening to it since. Each of the girls staying here at the hotel are so alive, so...so...beautiful in their own right. I think Tori made some these songs seem so alive because she wanted to may be ( IMOHO **no flames plz** ) reincarnate her little girl in these songs, so she makes them very much alive. The beat, it only adds to Tori. And her voice.. It has gotten so much more emotional.. I was listening to "Hotel" today, and when she gets to the "more" part, it gives me chills... The whole album gives me chills. So far my favorite songs are "Cruel" and "Hotel", but I love everything on the album. It is different, and I think it was time for tori to grow.... as she said, she had done the "girl and a piano" thing long enough, and she was getting lonely. I look forward to listening to this album until I burn a hole into the CD, and I cant wait for the concert....


    From anne tegtmeier

    May 19, 1998 - I know you've been besieged with reviews of the new CD. At this point, I think that just about everything's been said already, with consensus being reached on some tracks and wildly different opinions on others. All as it should be. For my part, let it simply be said that I really like it overall, and love some tracks. This is a first for me, actually. It took me a long time to digest each of her previous albums (yes, even including Little Earthquakes - I was a total latecomer), processing them all one at a time, eventually loving them all. Boys for Pele was the most difficult, and I've come to adore it too.

    Anyway, my one specific thought is this: When I first heard/read "She's Your Cocaine", I immediately thought the song was about and/or addressed to a drag queen (I have a lot of good friends who are queens). Did anyone else think this? Only my interpretation, and I'm sure she probably didn't intend it. But it does make sense, in a way: being attracted to all the external trappings of "femininity", thinking that becoming more and more "real" by using these superficial things (these precious things?) will make everything okay, the way that identity is affected by genderbending.

    Okay, you're right, I'm probably reading way too much into this. I looked at other people's takes on the song and they all made sense too. But for what it's worth . . . Is this choirgirl all that she seems?


    From Amy Hanauer

    May 19, 1998 - Well like with all the tori albums i had to listen to it many times to absorb it all. i have to say overall, i am throughly impressed with this album. i think it's more of what tori was trying to achieve then she did on Boys for Pele. I think it's her best record overall, sonically. however lyrically, i still think it isn't as compelling as let's say, little earthquakes. (that'll always be my personal favorite...heh). anyways here's my 2 cents:

    spark: i have to say, when i first heard this song on the radio i was in the car and it moved me...to new heights. i knew then when i heard this song, tori's whole album was going to sound way different then anything previously. it was nice to finally understand the lyrics, i found them rather difficult at first. but this song to me is a real treat. i love the chorus breakdown of just her and the piano, the part where it goes, "how many fates turn in the overtime.." that's amazing. the band really addsa a new dimension. and it is a much LOUDER track then any other first track on any of her other albums.

    cruel: i know some people don't dig this song, but i sure do! is it me, or does this song remind anyone else of a quasi-Tool influence? (I know she's friends with the lead singer Maynard). I really also appreciate the lyrics, especially, "why can't my balloon stay up in a perfectly windy sky.." and...heh, the cock-cock-cock your mane...very well annunciated. you can hear tori's experimentation with this song..but the basic tori elements are still there, even though there isn't really any piano.

    black dove (january): this song too, is very powerful, and lyrically very very strong. i think it could almost had been on boys for pele. reminds me a bit of "bells for her" simply because of the piano. i really could feel tori's sadness about her miscarriage and it shows a fantastic insight into her mind perhaps at the time it happened.

    raspberry swirl: this is MY ABSOLUTE FAVE track on this album. i love the fact it's dancy, and it's lyrics are fantastically well put! the piano is rocking, and the band really shines in this track. my friend commented when she heard this, that it reminded her of madonna's new stuff and "blue skies." i agreed with her to an extent, but you just can't top the chorus in that song "things are getting desperate when all the boys can't be men"..i think it's superb and maybe it'll break tori into new ground even further...maybe the dance charts and clubs..like "blue skies." here's a funny story: the other night my friend and i were driving around my hometown, and we blasted it around the neighborhood on a friday night, so now no one in my neighborhood can say they haven't heard the new tori! :)

    jackie's strength: i can see why people think this track sounds like "marianne". I did at first, but then after a few more listens, i thought it stood up on its own. however lyrically it kinda reminded me more of "mother" and "winter." the piano is eloquent and the strings blend in very gracefully. i believe that just when i think tori couldn't top herself lyrically any further she puts out a beauty of a ballad like this one. pure classic tori, and i'm sure it'll be a song most remember for sometime to come.

    iieee: another fantastic track. religion of course has always been a theme with tori, but i really think she nails it on the head here. the metaphors of no parachutes and dying, and screaming in cathedrals with sacrifices, really illuminate her ideas about organized religion in general. i do like the music in the background, it's very..spanish influenced...like...mamba or something, with the "ya da da da" and the drum beat. maybe i'm the only one who thinks that.

    liquid diamonds: ok, i think this is one of the weaker tracks on the album. i know tori's trying to branch out, but c'mon this is kind of well slow and stuff. and lyrically it's like..what the hell. "i guess i'm an underwater thing..." i dunno about this one. it's ok, but nothing i'd really call interesting.

    she's your cocaine: ok when i first heard this track i didn't really like it, but i think it's cause you have to be in the right mindset to listen to it. after a few more times i really started to like it. i like the bluesy feel to it, and it's irony. tori really is branching out in her piano playing. that's great to know. the lyrics are kind of well, interesting to say the least. anyone else think it's a reference to the whole courtney love-trent reznor affair?

    northern lad: this song made me cry when i heard it. so touching, and it reminded me of "putting the damage on" with its lyrics like "girls you have to know when to turn the page, when your only wet because of the rain." beautiful piano, and the lyrics are very heartfelt, with a great sweeping beat to it. truely a beautiful piece, and a nice transition from the previous track.

    hotel: once again, when i first heard this track i thought it was way too strange to even think it could be tori. reminded me of like Nine Inch Nails meets Depeche Mode meets Tool meets Tori. but after a few more listens i liked the fact she really uses her vocal range, especially in the part where she goes, "moooooooooooooooore"..i do think this track is a little hard to follow, but interesting nonetheless.

    playboy mommy: another classic tori track. i heard a little country-western influence in the beat, which i never expected to hear in a tori album. the lyrics are gripping and i think the song best sums up how she felt throughout her whole miscarriage. and i believe the album should've ended here. very powerful message.

    pandora's aquarium: ok ill say it loud and clear about this one: I HATE THIS TRACK. totally inane, totally ridiculous. there is experimentation but this is overboard. the lyrics are stupid, "foam can be dangerous with tape across the mouth." what the hell is that? and her vocals...blah! she sounds drunk or stoned on it. this track was almost impossible to listen to and i found it kind of anti-climatic to even put it there. she should've put the track "merman" like she wanted to. or even cooling. i really can't stand this track, and i don't say that many times of tori.

    overall: i give this record an 8 for sonic quality and experimentation. like i said, lyrically, there just isn't as much as i have gripped onto in the past. i really like the album overall though. i can't wait to see her live again. i think tori's at a different stage in her life. i'm glad there's a band to really make the tracks stronger. i think if there was just the piano on it, this album wouldn't have gelled the way it should. i thought putting each song on the record in a completely different order in the booklet made things a little hard to follow. but i liked the artwork. i do like this album considerably more then boys for pele. and i like to think of it as an album that i think will sell awfully well and give tori the commercial success she kind of has deserved for awhile but it's also sad in the fact that maybe there's going to be a loss in the "intimacy" tori fans once shared with her. tori can still make time for her fans, but when there's 200 people waiting to meet her like i know there will be at the NY show, it's going to really i think have an effect. i also dig the album's map..i like the part of the "wannabe rockies." (i.e. see Sarah McLachlan's "lilith fair" and her latest album :P). tori once again proves she's in a class by herself.


    From Ken Lee

    May 19, 1998 - I don't know why I'm writing this, mike, but this is just to rebuke a very negative post made by Roger Raat.

    Well, I think I can relate to his feelings, because all of us who discovered Tori after BFP would expect a very piano-y, medieval, enigmatic sound to its follow-up album, hence people feeling disappointed and all that.

    But really, after my listening to Little Earthquakes and Under The Pink, I have to voice out on Roger's issue.

    The first time I heard FTCGH, I was kindda unsatisfied and disappoionted too, but I ran home after school the next day (I had brought the CD to school and as it lay in my bag, it screamed to be listened at) and played it out loud and listened to it 8 or 9 times, and then, I loved it. And I think it said many things to me. Most importantly, it is telling us that Tori is experimenting. She's bringing in raggae rhytmns (on iieee), electronica (on Hotel) amongst others and she's also telling us, accept it, learn to accept me, even it it is just for FTCGH. As a Tori-phile I believe we have to respect her, and try to listen to it, even if we do not love it. I don't think FTCGH is less mainstream than Under The Pink.

    Certainly, FTCGH isn't her best album, but she's only got 4 out, so give her a chance. The lyrics are still there, and her piano prowess is clearly visible in Jackie's Strength and Northern Lad, so why complain. In ending, I'd just like to say that Tori's fan base has been expanding. People who've scorned Tori before now come up to me to tell me how much they like Spark and how much they understand FTCGH. Maybe because of the dance beats, I don't know.

    PS: If anybody knows the significance of Anorexia in Jackie's Strength, please share. Could it be Jackie O was anorexic?


    From Heidi M Brown

    May 19, 1998 - This album rocks I love it. I have been around waiting for Tori's album release since teh release of Under the Pink. I must say that I loved this album from the moment that the first song started. I love hearing Tori jam, and go techno. I can finally rock to Tori. I love it. But, this album still has the atmosphere created by sounds and lyrics to bring me to my knees. I love it. Well done Tori. If there are those of you who seem to be disappointed by this album because it is not like the others, listen to it again. Tori is still there. Trust her and let go. Trust her enough to allow her to take you where she wants to with this album. Just as you have trusted her in the past, trust her now. She will not disappoint. I have been listening to Tori since 1992. I have seen her in concert 7 times. Sometimes, I have sat there and wondered..."Tori, the hell are you doing?" I have been on the verge of disappointment, then something hits me and I understand what she is doing and why. This album is awesome. Don't pre judge it before you really listen to it and let it sink in. Otherwise you are really depriving yourself of something truely, truely awesome. Or at least that is my opinion. I can't break down the album into reviews of each song. I see that as like dividing a piece of art in sections. This album as a whole I believe is remarkable. It is not better or worse than any of her others. It is just different. It is still Tori whether you see her in there immediately or not, she is there.


    From Carri Luster

    May 19, 1998 - My boyfriend, an "old school" punk rock fan, bought the new album for me on the 5th. He's always liked tori all right, but has never been a fan the caliber of EWF. After we listened to it the first time, he leaned back in his computer chair and said, "Honey, that is the first Tori album I've ever liked after listening to it just once." He then went back to nuking contests with his irc friends. I smiled and said, "That's nice honey," and went back to my book. Inside I was thrilled!!! Tori's new style has touched a whole new audience! It's just another demonstration of how universal Tori's music is, and how timeless it always will be. Plus, no more, "you can listen to Bad Religion if I can listen to Tori"!!!


    From FaerieGI

    May 19, 1998 - Ok, i have this little theory going on in my head about this new album, and I thought I was nuts and obviously had too much time on my hands until I posed the idea to other Toriphiles.

    I think that From the Choirgirl Hotel is a re-birth of Little Earthquakes in the way the songs are placed on each album and the meaning behind the songs. Please keep in my mind, these are the meanings I found behind the songs.

    Ok, here we go.

    Song 1 FTCH: Spark. Song 1 LE: Crucify. Both become huge singles.

    Song 2 FTCH: Cruel. Song 2: LE: Girl cruel, in my opinion is that girl who grew up and isnt going to take the crap that she took for so long.

    Song 3 FTCH: Black-Dove. Song 3 LE: Silent all these Years. Both, huge undertones of abuse encountered and a survivors telling of the story.

    Song 4 FTCH: Raspeberry Swirl Girl. Song 4 LE: Precious Things. Both different songs from other on the album, both about the power of women.

    Song 5 FTCH: Jackie's Strength. Song 5 LE: Winter. You can hear the pain behind the songs....the pain and the strength.

    Song 6 FTCH: iieee. Song 6 LE: Happy Phantom..... "Well, I know we're dying and theres no sign of a parachute" and "if I die today I'll be the Happy Phantom." make sense?

    Song 7 FTCH: Liquid Diamonds. Song 6 LE: China. Both have pretty big water imagery, especially if you've seen the china video.

    Song 8 FTCH: She's Your Cocaine. Song 8 LE: Leather. Can't you just see the chic in She's Your Cocaine wearing leather?

    Song 9 FTCH: Northern Lad. Song 9 LE: Mother. Both are ballads. Ok you can tell, I'm strecthing it on this one. :O)

    Song 10 FTCH: Hotel. Song 10 LE: Tear in your Hand. Both of these songs are so different....grown up girl from TIYH needs more.

    Song 11 FTCH: Playboy Mommy. Song 11 LE: Me and a Gun. Perhaps the most obvious connection...both about life changing experiences for Tori.

    Song 12 FTCH: Pandora's Aquarium. Song 12 LE: Little Earthquakes. I think these are both musically superior and both leave the listener....fulfilled? satisfied? after the journey through both albums.

    But, this is just one persons thoughts after an obviously long night of insomnia. Some people thought it was interesting so I'd thought I'd share it with other toriphiles!


    From Ed X

    May 19, 1998 - I'd like to send in my opinion on FTCH, if you don't mind. Well, I have to be totally honest and say I was disappointed. It was kind of an anti-climax for a week where I had collected 13 Tori Amos B-sides before it.

    I miss the piano, I have to say. And some of the tunes are just not my type.

    Spark - love this song. First time I heard it I fell in love with it. I realise she doesn't play piano all through this one, but I believe she plays some guitar. Anyhow, it is a great song.

    Cruel - Does she do anything in this song but sing? I can't remember. But, I can't say this is one of my favourites. I like the bit about her balloon, but besides that...

    Black-Dove (January) - Probably my favourite. Sounds like my kinda Tori!

    Raspberry Swirl - This song is just too funky for words! I love it. Pity about the piano though. Still...

    Jackie's Strength - Love this one too. Very nice, my kinda Tori again.

    iieee - everyone seems to love this song. I would say it's okay.

    Liquid Diamonds - Haven't listened to it much. Kinda bored me.

    She's Your Cocaine - I was SO looking forward to this song, as it is most definately about a guy I go to school with who shaves his legs etc. I listen to it a lot, but it's not a favourite. (love: You sign Prince of Darkness / Try Squire of Dimness / Please don't help me with this). It has had an influence on me and my friends at school. We call this guy "Squire" now. It perfectly describes him.

    Northern Lad - Love it. Once again, it's my kinda Tori.

    Hotel - Weird. I don't like it much. 'cept the singing: "Give me more" is perfect (similar to the ah's in "The Pool"). I like the harpsichord-sounding thing. But it's not my song.

    Playboy Mommy - sad. love the old style of it.

    Pandora's Aquarium - once it gets started it's great.

    My big question: Where are the solo piano tracks?? It's okay, I guess (the album), but I prefer her before.


    From Kristy (posted to precious-things mailing list)

    May 19, 1998 - As much as I love you guys...we need to have a little chat. I think that there are many people on this list who are not giving FTCH a chance.

    We all know it's obviously extremely different from anything else we've heard from Tori....but is new such a horrendous thing??? People change and grow. And that's what Tori's doing musically, and I think we need to respect that. Personally, this album may end up being my favourite...every girl on the album is so...itself...and she doesn't need other girls to back her up. The new technotori thing on girls like "Raspberry Swirl" and "Hotel" are probably the most shocking additions to the new album, but they're also something so new and enthralling that you can't ignore them. The album is a genius mix of ballads that we know so well, and new tori things like 'black dove' and 'cruel'. so she has a backbeat...does that make her untrue to us? i think how many of us have jumped to say we don't like the new album is being a bit presumptious...i fell in love with it's uniqueness immediately, but i think it will just take time for some of us...instead of immediately saying you hate it, and saying she's just ripping off her old songs....listen to the album...go in your room, turn off all of the lights, close your eyes, and let Choirgirl take you somewhere you've never been...that's the first thing I did when I bought it...and i highly recommend it :)


    From Daniel M. Perez (posted to the precious-things mailing list)

    May 19, 1998 - I got the album at the midnight sale held at (Duh!) Midnight May 5, and listened to it till about 3:00 am that night. The poor CD has been on constant play in my apt. and I believe it was asking me for a break earlier this morning, so I obliged. Now, I've only been a Tori fan (don't think I've yet earned the Ear with Feet title) for like a year and a half, but my girlfriend being a EwF, I 've been saturated ever since.

    I love Tori,a nd I love what she had done so far. I absolutely love the innovations and the new grounds she explored in BFP, the way she just took the piano and the harpsichord and made them hers in such a lustful way. Incredible. And live... well, I don't think I have to say anything. But I'll be very honest with you: I always wanted to see Tori cut loose and rip into the piano and make me vibrate with emotion. I wanted to see Tori rock!

    I went to the Ft. Lauderdale Promo Tour show April 18, and when she came on stage and sang Balck Dove, as soon as she hit the "on the other side of the galaxy" line, and she smashed the piano keys and the band simply exploded onto the air, I knew I was seeing the Tori that I had been aching to see ever since the start. And I wasn't wrong at all!

    I love the new album, period. I know a lot of old Toriphiles are worried about the slightly radioish sound of some of the songs, but I absolutely love it. She had grown already, and I agree with her when she said that she needed to move away from the "girl and the piano" image. I love Tori like that, but she's a musician (a damn fine one) and musicians, like all true artists, need to expand and explore, which is what she does in Choirgirl. From old rock-n-roll sounds as in Playboy Mommy, to sultry bluesy notes as in Cruel, to experimental and blissfully disjointed as in Hotel (I love this song), to traditional ballad as in Jackie's Strength and Northern Lad, to classic Tori with a punch, as in iieee and Pandora's Aquarium, to new frontiers and explorations as in Spark and She's Your Cocaine, to the ultimate, Tori's own dance song, Raspberry Swirl. This album sees Tori, the musician, expand and reach into areas that maybe before she wasn't ready to go to. And I'm glad she did, for one. I don't think that the band takes away from her, like many thought it would, but rather add to her magic. They are very much aware that they are there for Tori and Tori alone, and the music of the band dances spirals around Tori in perfect harmony.

    I love Tori's secret time with the piano, and I'll always treasure them, but now I wanna see her wail and pound the keys, scream and weave new threads and new songs. I wanted to see her lose total control and become one with the music, even more so than she does, and I witnessed this firsthand, from about 10 feet away from her. It is an image that'll live with me forever.

    All in all, I love Choirgirl, I think that it is an excellent album, in which Tori expands her range and musical abilities and gives me what I had been wanting from her: pure power.


    From Amy D Hayes

    May 19, 1998 - i've noticed either a.) a lot of people saying this exact same thing, that they may not be SURE about the album right now, but are letting it grow on them and can feel they are going to love it, or b.)shocked disappointment (with themselves more than with Tori) that they don't love it.

    With every Tori album, there is a period of adjustment... we know that she hasn't really changed THAT much, and we've been getting glimpses of this for awhile now ("Precious Things" had lots of stuff besides piano... which is probably why it is adjusting so well to the band, "God" "Waitress" "Professional Widow" "Caught A Lite Sneeze"...people, she's been doing this stuff more subtly the whole time...)

    So really, i think people need to be careful not to write the album off yet. Tori is not like that, you have to give her a chance. i'm not saying try to convince yourself you like her stuff if you don't, but just remember that it is hard to digest something different, and then when it's not different anymore, you can see it for what it really is and THEN understand your feelings about it.

    Has she seriously let anyone down, even on (i blush to say this) YKTR? We gotta have some trust here.

    Also, whoever said that "Northern Lad" was the song that broke through and helped them to love the album and become friends with it, that's what happened to me too. God, what a song... i can't imagine ANYONE listening to it and not being affected strongly by it. Maybe this will be the "gateway song" for a lot of people, because it's a good balance of piano-based Tori and band-based Tori.... plus it's just so touching.


    From Troy D. Cockrell (posted to various Tori mailing lists)

    May 19, 1998 - Due to the fact that you all love the new album, I'll make this short and sweet.

    I've always said that I love Tori's music because of the piano and her just sort of become one. That ever since I saw Tori on the LE tour it's been a girl and her piano thing. So very early in my Tori experience I have said that if Tori ever drops the piano I would not hesitate to drop her. Except for a couple of songs (Black Dove, Jackie's Strength, Northern Lad) the piano has dissappeared or shall I say taken a back seat. I don't think Tori learned from the YKTR days that this "band" thing didn't get it then and it won't get it now. It is such a powerful experience to see Tori live with just the piano or Tori and Caton. It is my hope that this is just a new experience and the girl and a piano will return.

    New album rating......5 out of 10


    From pamelia vwj

    May 19, 1998 - on May 5 after a tiring day at work i drove to WAL-MART to pick up the new Tori album. it was pouring and windy and i was all exicited about the new album since i haven't heard "spark" or seen the video yet(and i still haven't!!!). of all places, you think mr. sam wal-mart would have it, but nooo there was no sign of Her. i asked mr. salesperson and he doesn't know either. so okay. i headed to the next wal-mart, supercenter that is. and surprising, they don't have it either. boo! by this time, i just wanted to go home.

    the next day, i headed down to Best Buy where i should have gone in the first place. yup, Tori was there. i quickly bought one and head home. That night, after i took a relaxing shower and got all comfy in bed, i plugged the cd in, hook the earphones over my head, closed my eyes, and......WOW!!!

    i'm not much of a critic nor am i very good at expressing myself, but once again, Tori has outdone herself. Incredible. The pictures are awesome, very mysterious, dark, in another dimension it seems. Her music has beat and rhythmn and yes, i wanna shake my hips to it. On the other hand, ballads like "black dove" and "playboy mommy" just GRIPS my heart every time i hear it! i don't know how to explain it?!!! "jackie's strength" is...is...just beautiful as well. the part i wait for is "if you love enough you'll lie alot guess they did in camelot". *sighs*

    her lyrics are still as mysterious as ever. i guess that's poetry. and besides, some things are never meant to be totally understood. the interpretations and meanings are endless. we be our own judges i guess;-)

    i've listened to this ablum for about 8 days, and i'm still in awe!!! boy, what will Tori think of next?!!!!!!!!!!


    From Kriste

    May 19, 1998 - I bought "choirgirl" the second day it came out and I am in love with it! I'm not disappointed with any of the songs, but I will admit that I'm not particularly thrilled with "Cruel" because of the lack of her piano, but the way she sings it, it is awesome... "You sh-sh-shock me..." I can't get enough of hearing "Raspberry Swirl" because that beat and her overlaying vocals have me hooked. (Plus, she sounds all orgasmic here, which I find very exciting.) Hearing the songs, "i i e e e," "Spark," and "Playboy Mommy" remind me of the pain that Tori had to go through during her miscarriage and that just brings me to tears, as does her "Me and a Gun." I'm particularly fond of the music in this album; it's a balance of the familiar Tori ("Liquid Diamonds" and "Pandora's Aquarium") with the "new" Tori. I'm also excited to hear "Black Dove" because I'm biased in the fact that my online name contains Dove, but also I'm getting the message of a woman who appears to be innocent on the surface, but she has some mysteries about her that are hidden. (Sorry, this is the only song I've really analyzed... *giggle*) Overall, I was pleased with the very first listening, as I keep listening, I love it even more.


    From Luke

    May 13, 1998 - I, being a fellow Toriphile (Ear with Feet, am deeply disappointed to see how some fans are giving Tori all heck about the sound on the new album...For those who do not like the album because it uses "techno sounds or beats," i pose you this question: › ››› Would you like to see Tori confined to one type of music, to confine herself to something that she feels she needs to move out of? › ››› I feel that her move from "the girl behind the piano" to a more band oriented sound is only a testament to her talent. And the ability to play these band oriented songs as wonderfully as she does on "from the choirgirl hotel" only makes her greater...I was disappointed to see some fans dislike the album for the simple fact that she moved out of the old. Why complain? The album is wonderful and very emotional...You don't get much more emotional than "but she couldn't keep baby alive." I just felt compelled to write and pose the above question and to comment on the album.

    The range of sound and the emotion on the album is of a grand scale and i feel that the move to songs with a wider range of sounds is only logical. Many groups have attempted to move from one sound to another and failed miserably. Metallica comes to mind. However, Tori pulled it off, and she pulled it off better than anyone I have ever known. › ›

    it's only opinion, so take it as you will...


    From Roger Raat (precious-things mailing list post)

    May 13, 1998 - Dear EWF,

    The last few days i feel like i'm going against the stream. On this digest i feel overwhelmed with lots of reviews about the concerts and the cd. The most are very positive. Well, after hearing FTCH i really can't be very positive... In this light it's interesting to see the discussion about faeries that have disappeared in the 'thank you words', it doesn't surprise me. I think FTCH is a very weak, unbalanced and rather mainstream cd. Strange, because it's also one of the most personal cd's of Tori... one with a sad background. Problem is that right now Tori is expressing her emotions in musically different ways then she once used to do. You may call it musical evolution or progression, i prefer to call it an musical experiment, of which i hope that it doesn't last long. Let me be more specific.

    What bothers me on FTCH (and ofcourse this is very personal)? I think i could devide my criticism in three general subjects: lyrics, emotions and music.

    Let me begin with the last one, music. Drums, drumcomputers, why does it sound so awefull on this cd? I can't say that i don't like drums... Little Earthquackes had lots of them, but somehow they followed the gently waving of the piano accords. Here they don't. They are too load and very very monotonous, so much that they distract from the actual song. RG and SYC are sad examples. In general i feel that the music on the cd is monotonous, smoothly and alsmost paved for the great audience (ofcourse needed to be able to fill up that big stadiums where she is going to play). I miss stories in the songs, stories with changes in rhythm, different endings form beginnings; where did she learn to make songs with so much refrains that keep on reapeating themselves? It makes me even sadder when Tori said in an interview with 'Oor' that you shouldn't take notice of the lyrics but let the music speak to you. Ok, well i can listen to that music, but i get bored with it too quick... You know, her music on FTCH is like background music... i hate to say that, but it is. Where i was meshemerised with BFP when i heard it for the first time, now with FTCH i lost my concentration very easily and found it difficult not to skip songs.

    An important reason also for losing concentration are the lyrics. They are truly very personal and sometimes even touching, but the style is not the style which made me fell for Tori her music. Indeed the faeries are gone. Tori doesn't hide behind mystical clouds of breathtaking metaphors and symbols. There is no breeze behind the words that takes you away to your own thoughts to combine with the music and let you (re)live a life so far away as it is close, so explicity a part of you and so often surpressed. A place where the faeries fly... And now Tori says that we shouldn't take notice of the lyrics... well, i can understand that she wants to explore her musical potency, i respect that, but it doesn't speak to me as her other work did.

    Emotions finally... (i'm talking to much, i know, sorry, but i've to get this off my chest). Where is Tori? Can you hear her really... she fades away so often behind a loud wall of musical instruments. Ofcourse there are songs where she truly can be heard (BD,NL, PM), but even then i miss... something... it sounds flat to me (except PM, finally emotion). It doesn't grab me... does she believes in it herself? She expresses herself more directly now, but she loses a lot of the magic along with that. Magic that she created by being kind of out of reach, indirect, by beinig hopefull in stormy skies. Maybe she was protecting herself... not any more, so we only have music, not words. Sometimes I get the nasty feeling that this time Tori is a victim/volunteer (?) of a big marketing campaign. The music is smoothened, she plays big stadiums, strange selling tactics, etc. The piano is the real victim... where does the piano really break out? Wher does it truly lead... i get the feeling that it is hedged in by a fixed pattern of drum rhythms... they lead the way, not the piano. And with the piano a lot of emotion is truly gone... only one note of the paino can make you smile or sad... now i'm only sad, because every note goed down in the violance of mealy-mouthedness (f.e. Iiiieee, is tempting but then that guitar comes in with that unpleasant melody... so sweet... too sweet).

    Ok, i'll stop... sorry for all the space i used in this digest. It's difficult to express my feelings in a strange language and with such complex musical experiences as with Tori. The bottom line is, that I'm very disappointed with FTCH. Ofcourse i will play it, i even like a few songs but it didn't touch my heart as the others did. Tori went on further along the musical path that she has pointed out for herself. I'm glad for that, it's a good thing that she does, try to evolve, get the best out of your musical talents, but this time the path she walks on isn't mine i'm afraid. I hope and think that a lot of people can appreciate the path that she has now taken. I just hope that this was an experiment and that she will return to more paino driven, lyrical mysterious and emotional breathened songs. Thanks for your time,


    From Beth Winegarner

    May 13, 1998 - Now, if you're not interested in having your early impressions of the album 'spoiled' by someone else's impressions, please just skip this message -- I won't be offended in the slightest. But I have a lot of thoughts and connections I've been making listening to the album these past few weeks, and this is where I'm at right now. I'll just go through, song by song...

    Spark:

    I love the background vocals (thanks to ventrue for pointing out the swing low, sweet chariot bit), I wish I knew what they were more thoroughly. I like the "how many fates" bit -- the anger there is so real. Because you think everything's going to be ok, and then it isn't -- and the ballerinas are really sharks but you might never be able to prove it. I like how she's been singing this live, with a lot harder edge to those lines, too.

    Cruel:

    The rhythm of this song is really neat (I love Jon's bass in the intro), and I totally dig that she built the rhythm from drumming on her body in the shower. This song is just so trippy -- and perfect for like, goth clubs (along with i i e e e and Liquid diamonds). I know, somehow, what she means by "why can't my balloon stay up in a perfectly windy sky" -- you know, sometimes you're trying to keep your mood up when everything around you's blustery. And it just doesn't happen. I wonder if the second verse -- "top 10 in the charts of pain" and "my vine twists around your need" -- is about Trent? I also like the "cock cock cock your mane" and "shshshshock me sane" parts. Yum. :)

    Black-Dove:

    Wow. At first I couldn't figure out that muted piano bit at the beginning. Now, I think the fact that it sounds "wrong" makes perfect sense in terms of the song. In a way I think this is an updated MAAG. This is her victim side, still there, living out there by the woods, and maybe she hasnt been to Barbados but she's been to the other side of the galaxy. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a January world too -- "so many storms not right somehow" and too many times through victimhood a lion does become a mouse.

    But the main reason I think this song relates to MAAG is the "I have to get to TEXAS" part. You all know how in Thelma & Louise she doesn't want to go to Texas because that was where she was raped, and she doesn't want go back thre and face up to what happened to her? Since MAAG was based around T&L in a sense ... I think this is Tori's way of saying if you go back to that place where you were hurt, and you face up to it, you can escape this January world. Maybe.

    I don't know about the blue dress yet.

    She's talking about the cowboys again, and the snakes are her kin -- seems relevant to "Honey."

    I also really like the "hey" around 3:15 during the piano solo.

    Raspberry Swirl:

    The first thing I have to say is I love how exhilirating it feels to sing the "ra-a-a-aaa-aaaa-sperry swirl" part. If you take your breaths the same way she does, it leaves you with this amazing and very short high, a little like doing lamaze or something. :) It's fun!

    I also really like the random guitar swirls in the intro. And that crunch-crunch-crunch-crunch noise just before the semi-sireny noise stars at 10 seconds. (I wish I had names for all these things).

    For you SF fans, there's a great little ice cream shop in Sebastopol called Screamin' Mimi's and they make a RASPBERRY SWIRL ice cream... and it is VERY delicious. :)

    Jackie's Strength:

    I really enjoy the bits about being a teenager, the David Cassidy (who has a new album coming out 5/12) and the sleepovers. I think this song is pretty self-explanatori, though, so I don't have a lot to say about it just now.

    i i e e e:

    I LOVE this song. The vocal interludes are so very pretty, and the strings. Yum. I'm trying to figure out "need a lip gloss boost in your america" -- I mean, it didn't take me THIS long to figure out "need a big loan from the girl zone". I like how this song recalls "Crucify" ("why does there gotta be a sacrifice?")... I think this song speaks directly to the loss of her child, screaming at cathedrals -- and maybe the "sweet saliva" brings about conception, I don't know how to explain that exactly, but going back to the myth that the world was born when God sneezed. But the whole "I know we're dying and there's no sign of a parachute... why cant it be beautiful? why does there gotta be a sacrifice?" is more anger about the loss of her child, and the loss of good things generally. The "Why do bad things happen to good people" question.

    Anyone know who the 'little arsonist' is? Maybe this goes back to witch-burning? Since it's about "so sure you can save every hair on my chest."

    Liquid Diamonds:

    I adore this one too, the melody is so pretty. I love the booming bass that comes in (should be enjoyable for those of you who happen to have the rapper-bass-stereo setup in your cars) in the beginning. This is such a swimmery song. I think this does relate to the mermaid imagery present in other songs, and also directly to 'merman' -- 'I've got a sea secret in me it's plain to see and it is rising' sounds so much like she's talking about the death of her child yet again.

    I also like the first lines, like she's talking about coming to terms with the loss. 'Surrender.' 'You'll know quite soon what my mistake was' -- perhaps she's blaming herself for what happened to cause her to lose her child? For those on horseback or dog sled -- we know Tori's previous references to horses, especially riding on them to get to a safe place --

    I wonder who she's talking about that "still grants forgiveness" -- I mean I want to know which person, or goddess, this is. :)

    "the offering is molasses" -- people have been relating this to Eric especially in light of 'northern lad' but I think maybe molassess is the baby. The sacrifice, the offering. Maybe Tori feels that in order to resolve some previous situation, she had to sacrifice/offer the baby? to gain forgiveness for something she did?

    Ok, this is myth time, but I can't remember any myths where a person has to go (to the underworld? or under the sea? Violet? Violet?) to get their soul back -- but I think this plays into this song pretty heavily. I would love to see where an excursion into the subject would lead.

    She's Your Cocaine:

    I know this song is about some rally twisted things, but it's fun in many ways too. Mostly an up song. I like how she sounds like PJ Harvey.

    Northern Lad:

    again, I feel like this one is in a lot of ways pretty straightforward, and probably about Eric, although I do think the "I thought we'd be ok, me and my molasses" is about her and the baby. I don't think she's still mourning the loss of Eric in the way she was on Pele. I think the line "But I feel the cake just isnt done" goes back to "Baker, Baker," that's for sure.

    I also think the "when you're only wet because of the rain" references "and when my heart's soaking wet/boy your boots can leave a mess." I also just adore the lines "I loved his secret places/But I can't go anymore." There's someone I feel that way about, to this day, and she just puts it so well. *sigh*

    Hotel:

    I already posted a bunch about this, just in terms of the Velvets... But I haven't eben begun to unravel a lot of this song yet. It sounds so mysterious, and maybe the whole thing is set in Gaiman's London Below (from "Neverwhere")... it has that kind of feel to it, really. But it also sounds like it could be about someone, a friend, like a Trent Reznor or a Kurt Cobain, a famous but troubled guy that she can't connect with anymore because of some situation. And the lesson that sometimes you just have to watch someone crash and there's nothing you can do about it. I love the multi-layered meaning of "guess that what I'm seeking isn't here."

    Could someone more into christian mythos please talk about King Solomon's mines and what Exit 75 might point to?

    Playboy mommy:

    this was the first of the songs on this album to make me feel like crying, it's so tender and precious and somehow reminds me of how I feel about losing my mom before I had the opportunity to really be there for her. It's a hard thing to own up to, that you feel like you weren't present enough for someone who is passed on now.

    The harmonies -- vocal-- on this song are so pretty. And I love how she's encouraging this spirit to go and be independent. "I get what I want/you're so like me." And the bit about the sailors. *sigh* But my favorite bit is "I'll say it loud here by your grave/those angels can't ever take my place... somewhere where the orchids grow/I can't find those churchbells/that played when you died/played gloria/talking bout hosanah.' Yum...

    I also think Caton's slide guitar is SO evocative... it makes me happy and sad at the same time.

    Pandora's Aquarium:

    I'm still digesting this one. Despite its simple sound (I love the jazzy almost billie holiday feeling to it) it seems very complex in structure and content.

    The intro reminds me a lot of "Yes, Anastasia" somehow. The "thoughts you thought you'd never tell" remind me both of the "thoughts right now" and the "Buttons that have forgotten they're buttons."

    But I don't know where to go with this one from here... it's too tricky yet.


    From Andrew

    May 13, 1998 - On the whole, I think it's a good album - sound songwriting and amazing vocals, and incredible lyrics. But it's good in a different sense from what Tori has done before, which in turn makes it a bit disappointing...the girl and her piano have all but disappeared. It's the kind of record that you can headbang to, but the piano's in the background and it's a lot more commercial.

    Spark - The song I'm sure pretty much everyone has heard...metallic, hard-edged vocals over scratchy synthesizer, with an emphasized piano-driven bridge. The chorus is really catchy, and the lyrics are signature Tori-obscure while remaining somewhat direct.

    Cruel - My favorite song on the album...dark, tribal drums and a chainsaw-like sound make up the rhythm, with breathy vocals and echoing chorus. Has some Portishead-esque scratching towards the end, along with wailing and panting into the mike. Lyrics are very dark, in a subdued-viciousness kind of way.

    Black-Dove (January) - I love the piano Tori plays in this song, it sounds almost like the upright in Bells For Her. The instrumental solos are fantastic. IMO, though, it would be much better if she'd toned down the super-loud chorus, which is kind of jolting.

    Raspberry Swirl - This one is good, she manages to construct an ear-pleasing dance beat and melody while keeping the feel of the song somewhat dark rather than superficial. Ultra-sexy breathing into the mike ends the song.

    Jackie's Strength - Beautiful, the girl and her piano persona comes through for this one. Soaring vocals and appropriate string arrangement make the song a real tearjerker.

    iieee - Deep, resonating drums and keyboard, with a wail that resembles the sound "iieee" in the background. The chorus is amazing, drums meshing with Tori's passionate question, "why does there gotta be a sacrifice?"

    Liquid Diamonds - The percussion is really loud in this one, and the song is kind of boring until she gets to the low chorus..."I guess I'm an underwater thing". Altogether it isn't one of the better songs on the record, IMO.

    She's Your Cocaine - I love this one! When Tori said it was "Amish funk" she wasn't lying. She angrily squawks out the vocals until the bridge, where the piano really comes out and she slows down the tempo. The guitar riffs are really catchy.

    Northern Lad - Nice, evenly paced ballad. Piano is brought to the forefront throughout this song, and the vocals are very beautiful.

    Hotel - This is my least favorite...the constant tempo changes completely ruin the song, and it seems to drag even though the electronic beat is moving a mile a minute. Not a very beautifully written song either, to say the least.

    Playboy Mommy - A very sad song, wonderfully sung and written. The slide guitar truly fits the feel of the song, meshing perfectly with the piano and soft drums.

    Pandora's Aquarium - The beginning of this song is really weird and very un-Tori, kind of grating, then the rhythm comes in and it becomes listenable again. Sort of bluesy, in a way...a good song to end the record with.


    From Sarah Weinman

    May 13, 1998 - I just picked up the album today (around 1:00 EST) and I'm on my third listen...I know beforehand that I have to listen to a Tori album several times before I can really judge things....so here goes:

    Spark: I'd heard this on crappy RealVideo, and I'd liked it then, but the more I listen, the better I like. Especially the bit that starts with "how many fates turn around in the overtime". Some of the time-signature changes are a bit off-putting, but I'm getting technical.

    Cruel: Weird, but funky. Definitely techno-wannabe.

    Black-Dove (January): at first, I wasn't so sure, but now....well, it's weird. "From the Other Side of the Galaxy" reminds me so much of Chris De Burgh's "SpaceMan Came Travelling". I don't know why...just that whole otherworldly wacko stuff, I dunno.

    Raspberry Swirl: I love this number. Faux-disco...it's just rocking. And to the person who thought this was about orgasm...hell, it probably is. I find it interesting that she put this track at #4: just like Professional Widow, which is obviously the parent of RS. Hmm....

    Jackie's Strength: Definitely autobiographical...or at least, it had that feel to it. David Cassidy? Couldn't she have picked a better '70's icon.....but whatever, I'm nitpicking. This is a great song, in true Tori tradition.

    Ieeee: How does a song combing african tribal rhythm with Jewish sensibility? I don't know, but Tori seems to have done it, blending the whole strong rhythm with lilting minor shmaltz. It's growing on me...I think I'll love it by the end of the week.

    Liquid Diamonds: eh. It's OK, but nothing really special. I'd call it filler, I'm afraid...but somehow, the title reminds me of Elizabeth Taylor's perfume line...got a Liz Taylor fetish, Tori? ;-) Although, the "underwater" part is definitely evoking underwater.....I can almost hear her gurgle.

    She's Your Cocaine: Wow, this is..quite something. Very raw.

    Northern Lad: this is a wonderful song. Great lyrics. Something about it reminded me of "Hey Jupiter" when she is singing "wet from the rain"...the warble was *exactly* like in HJ. Hell...I could set HJ to the beat of NL and it would probably work out perfectly.

    Hotel: Wacko. Just plain wacko. And yet, I feel she's channelling U2 in some section...."Mysterious Ways" I think the song it is. Ooh, and Jimi Hendrix, too. Hey, I guess it's just subterfuge of old time rock and roll. What do you know...

    Playboy Mommy: obviously about the miscarriage. Definitely one of my favorites. Love the Gloria and Hosanah references...although.....if they are going to play a Requiem at a funeral, they would omit the Gloria, and put in Requiem. Has Tori got her Mass stuff mixed up? Hmm.....

    Pandora's Aquarium: traditionally, the last song on a Tori album has been the weakest. This continues (although "Yes, Anastasia is one of my all-time faves.....though "Little Earthquakes" is blah and I despise "Twinkle" with a passion). It's not bad, like Twinkle, but it's about the same as LE. Maybe I'll like it with more listens.

    So on the whole? Well, it's definitely a departure, with the bad, and the further exploration of techno/rock etc. However, it's definitely a natural progression. If I can find quotes from previous albums, then everything's OK....and was "my little arsonist" a line that has popped up before? It definitely sounds familiar....anyway, it's much more polished than Boys for Pele, where she sort of ran wild....

    I do find it interesting that this is her shortest album ever, at around 54:13. But overall, this works.

    And I predict that Raspberry Swirl will rule the dance charts ;-)

    Hey, if Loreena McKennit could crack top 40 this year, then why not Tori? But hearing Casey Kasem talk about Tori's life may make me ill.....


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