Many thanks to Lucy
for this article and Scarlet's Walk review that you see below!
Tori Amos allows the
mystical Scarlet to weave the threads on her new album, writes
LIFE is rarely normal
when your name is Tori Amos.
Hit is at her country
house in England to discuss her latest album, Scarlet's Walk. But
before we can, Tori has laid out a series of photographs, taken
across America, which help explain the lyrical theme of her album.
"She'd want you
to see the pictures when you hear the songs," Amos says. Amos
hasn't moved into third person, rather she's referring to Scarlet -
of Scarlet's Walk.
But no one is quite
sure whether Scarlet is a person, whether it's Tori, whether Tori's
based on her, or whether she's, er, a drop of blood.
Scarlet is a girl," Amos explains in a hushed, barely audible
becomes the land, or a drop of blood. It weaves. Scarlet is a thread
and I'm following that thread, as Tori, but sometimes Scarlet takes
She pauses after the
"It's a little
like Sybil. But I've always loved that movie."
While some blatant
Tori Amos clones have surfaced in the past year (hello Danielle
Spencer), none are quite as, well, delightfully bonkers as Tori.
Scarlet's Walk, her
"sonic novel", chronicles a road trip through the United
States, an experience she feels has become a lost art.
"They call the
country between the coasts fly-over country now. People just say,
'How long does it take me to get where I need to go?' instead of, 'I
really need to see who's out there, I need to open myself up to a
different way of seeing things'."
The lyrics also draw
on her mother's memories of growing up in the Cherokee culture.
"I wrote this
record because I was told to by the ancestors," Amos says.
"The songs kind of barraged me. And in wanting to tell the tale
that is current, I had to go back hundreds of years."
It also includes some
post-September 11 musings; Amos was in New York at the time.
"You can love a
land and not love what the leaders of the land are doing with
it," she says. "They're separate.
"In real life it
seemed to me when the Twins went down, the masks began to come
"There was a
brief period when, besides all the nationalism, . . . there were
people asking questions that hadn't been asked in that way."
Each song on
Scarlet's Walk is linked.
There was so much to
tell, and so many pictures and maps to explain the story that, for
everything that didn't fit, Amos has set up Scarlet's Web on
sonic stories or ink and paper stories, sometimes with the characters
it's hard to know who's leading who," Amos says.
She cites her song
Taxi Ride as an example. The line "just another dead fag"
was written when a friend contracted HIV. She thought he was going to
die, but he didn't.
Amos now believes the
song was meant to be for another friend who did die, make-up artist
Aucoin had heard the
song and was very moved by it.
"I had just
recorded it before he died. It's so odd. He'd say, 'Who are you
writing this about?' And while it was inspired by a different event
in the end, it was about him.
"It goes back to
threads, this strange tapestry."
Then there's the
track I Can't See New York.
Scarlet becomes a drop of blood," Amos says.
leaves from Boston and never arrives. My character picks up Scarlet
and leaves New York city, which I, as Tori, did.
"She hitches a
ride with Mrs Jesus, which I figured was a good way to get
Amos lights up when
talking about her two-year-old daughter, Natashya.
She now tours only if
her daughter is along for the ride, and has written several songs for
Natashya's ears only.
"It's like a
light that's been switched on," Amos says. "Her coming has
made me look at and question the decisions that are being made
"The world is so
small. We're going to leave this to them. Each generation gets their
time. We're having our time now. This is where it's time for us to be
"It's not time for us to sit up and stare at the moon and
wonder who am I, how do I feel? That was my twenties. I did that, I
sat in bushes and talked to the plants.
"But now, what's
going to be left to them is being decided, not just by the leaders .
. . And that power must be understood. We're making decisions about
how this earth is going to be carved up.
anything I hope Scarlet's Walk gets people to ask their own
questions about how they see things.
"There's not a
lot of information in the States about those things."
Scarlet's Walk (Sony)
SCARLET'S Walk is
Tori Amos' first record for her new label, Sony.
Her final records for
previous label Warner included a live album and covers album,
suggesting she was filling out a contract before leaving. There was
even talk of master tapes being held hostage.
"It could have
ended with a little more grace, but we're not in divorce court
today," Amos says.
always friends you make you truly miss, and treasure among the ruins.
But looking at the stock market I left at the right time."
On her covers album
Amos tackles arguably Eminem's most disturbing song, 1997's Bonnie
and Clyde, about a man killing a woman and dumping her body.
Many were surprised
Amos would record such a song.
"If you give it
30 seconds you figure it out: you have to go to the venom to get the
antidote. That's the only way.
"To turn it
around was to give her a voice."
Scarlet's Walk (Sony)
AFTER a covers album
and flirtations with electronics, here Tori Amos returns to a fairly
straightforward piano record.
Except there's a
complicated lyrical twist where every song is linked (complete with
map) to a geographical road trip across the US, filled with odd
characters. Obviously given artistic freedom as part of her new deal
with Sony, there's nothing resembling a pop hit here at all, which
means this album probably won't trouble those outside her immediate
Despite that, it's
hard not to be charmed by the classy single A Sorta Fairytale, while
the ballad Crazy and intense Mrs Jesus and Gold Dust drag you into
her world whether you like it or not.
The verdict: * * *
In a word: odd
Little Earthquakes (1992), Boys for Pele (1996)