Houston Chronicle
May 10, 1998

Added May 12, 1998

An album review appeared in the May 10, 1998 edition of the Houston Chronicle in the Zest section.

There's really not much different about Tori Amos' new album from her previous works. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

Amos made her name with a gothic piano, intricate and unusual rhythms, and lyrics written more for sonic than literary effect. The above coupled with a surly yet often enchanting stage presence, has gained Amos a fierce following in the alterna-pop world. These fans are unlikely to be disappointed by her new record.

Others might be less than floored but they'd also be remiss if they lumped Amos into the Lilith Fair mode. Amos demonstrates a lot more edge and blunt, seething anger in her performances than most of the Lollapalooza participants.

From the Choirgirl Hotel reflects the edge, which Amos keeps under control to good effect. The opening cut, Spark, is driven by a spooky guitar line, subtle percussion and a mix of metallic-sound lead vocals countered with angelic-yet-sensual backups.

Amos often delivers sharp, vaguely difficult songs, but she also concocts some exceedingly pretty compositions. Best of this category is playboy mommy, a forlorn shuffle marked by Amos' trademark rolling piano riffs and colored with sad horns and a mournful vocal.

As Amos' previous efforts, the album can be a bit wearying taken as a whole.

While Amos should be commended for keeping the thematic focus, but the latter halt of the work, you may crave a shot of say, Hanson cotton candy.

*** (out of 4)
Steve Crawford

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