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October 29, 2002

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Thanks to Josh for sending me this review of Scarlet's Walk.

Amos charts a soulful map
by Angela Pacienza, TORONTO

Tori Amos is consumed with other people's stories. Volumes of intimate tales are stored inside her head. The singer-songwritter, who startled audiences with her 1992 debut by casting the sordid tale of her real-life rape to the soothing sounds of a Bosendorfer piano, collected the stories while touring in a post-Sept. 11 America.

After shows, fans waited by stage doors to tell her deeply personal narratives about loved ones. Others sent letters recounting anecdotes and memories "that you don't say when tomorrow's coming," Amos, 39, recalled during a recent stopover in Toronto.

"It was a time in America where the masks were down, the makeup was off, the resumes were blown away." Amos says their stories were spawned from a spiritual source rudely awakened by the terrorist attacks. "America itself came back to the round table with all the other countries and realized that it was part of the world instead of this isolated bubble," she said, gesticulating wildly. Her response was to walk in another's shoes.Scarlet's Walk, the singer's latest album, is a sonic novel that takes listeners throught an introspective road trip across the United States in the aftershock of the attacks. Amos was in New York that fateful morning, away from her two-year-old daughter. The event caused the singer to pause and reflect on her life, especially her new role as a mother. Afew months later she lost a close fried, famed makeup artist Kevin Aucoin.

"From a national world event to a personal event to just maybe as a writer realizing that America is at a crossroads on every level, whether it knows it or not," she said.

The concept for the album was inspired by aboriginal stories sung by Amos's mother about her Cherokee ansestry. Scarlet's Walk probes westward expansion, porn culture and America's concept of democracy, throught the eyes of a woman trying to find herself. "Scarlet's my character in this. I get to hide behind her, I guess," Amos said.

"She's busy in this...but there's a place of reality where she begins to see within her travels that her fantasy of what a good day was , or a strong relationship was, is changing. There is an impact that this has on her, it does define certain parts of her. It's written on her body, it's a body map. "

While the album is rich with symbolism, Scarlet's trip can be actualized with any Perley's road map of the United States. Traveling coast to coast, some 4,800 kilometres, the album records Scarlet's many stirring, romanticized encounters: the Mississippi River site of a massacre of Apache people; Austin, Tex., where a Latino revolutionary is fighting U.S. intervention in Central America; and New York, where a woman tries to cope with a plane crash.

"The soul of America and the native Americans made it very clear to me while I was on the road that the time has come [for change] she's tired of being misrepresented instead of Miss America."

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