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October 31, 2002

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Many thanks to Lucy for this article and Scarlet's Walk review that you see below!

Tori article/interview:

scarlet's web
Tori Amos allows the mystical Scarlet to weave the threads on her new album, writes CAMERON ADAMS

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.

"Sometimes Scarlet is a girl," Amos explains in a hushed, barely audible voice.

"Sometimes it 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 over."

She pauses after the explanation.

"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 down.

"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

"Whether they're 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 Kevyn Aucoin.

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.

"That's when Scarlet becomes a drop of blood," Amos says.

"The plane 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 out."

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 now.

"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 present.

"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.

"More than 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) out now.

tori walks

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.

"There are 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."

Album review:

Tori Amos
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 diehard fanbase.

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

Other releases: Little Earthquakes (1992), Boys for Pele (1996)

Cameron Adams

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