A review of Tori's Scarlet's Walk album appeared in the January 18, 2003 edition of The Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville, KY in the Saturday Scene. It is a good review. Louisville is my hometown and often Tori's albums in the past have been reviewed by someone who hates her from the start and who never gave her albums a chance. It is refreshing to see they let someone else review her album, and they liked it! Many thanks to Pagefire for making me aware that this article was online, and to Sharman who emailed me about the review. Read it online at louisvillescene.com or below.
Scarlet's Walk (3 1/2 stars)
Tori Amos (Epic)
By SCOTT ROBINSON
Marriage and a baby seldom amount to a clear-cut proposition. On television sitcoms they are often a shark jump, signaling the end; in a recording artist (take Billy Joel, for instance) they can simultaneously inspire deep insight and maudlin self-indulgence.
In Tori Amos, they have sharpened an already finely honed sense of melodic intricacy and emotional clarity.
There are treasures to be found for those bold enough to track Amos' steady flight into her future, not to say her flight from the past. Too often, singer-songwriters of her stripe lose their musical beauty to the drone of a grinding ax. Amos has never lingered in anger or disappointment and has a fresh platform in her recent life choices. To say these are reflected in this album is a given, but her mode of expression is to show us the changes in how she views others.
The horrific shadow of 9/11 oddly illuminates this work, written by Amos on a cross-country trip last year. In a moment when one would expect cynicism, she offers up an adult sense of loss ("I Can't See New York") and a sense of appreciation of what surrounds her ("Your Cloud," "Mrs. Jesus," "Taxi Ride," "Another Girl's Paradise").
Even her take on intimacies ("A Sorta Fairytale") has traded harshness for insight. Amos has been so deeply changed by events without and within that she can scarcely make music in the way she once did. She is pressing on here with considerable courage and no apologies, seeing her subjects in their entirety even where doing so renders her past takes incomplete or openly wrong.
The result is close to a masterwork, or at least implies a masterwork to come. Her voice finally blossoms beyond tortured melancholy and involuntary sensuality into the deep and gentle vessel we have always believed it could be. Her piano work is at its very best, fluid and moving, backed by sweeping and emotionally stirring arrangements that complement her storytelling without manipulation. Tori's fans may raise an eyebrow, but this is a work that can't be set aside.