La Presse (Quebec, Canada)
Many thanks to Caroline St-Pierre and Natasha (Natha Namia) for this review of Scarlet's Walk The reviewer gave the album 3 1/2 stars! The original review was in French and can be read online at www.cyberpresse.ca. Look below for the English translation from Caroline and Natasha.
A journey through the Heart of America
During the past few years, Tori Amos has always offered very personal productions, that are often liked as much as they are disliked. Her musical excess on the harpsichord (Boys for Pele), her strange use of electronic rhythms (To Venus and Back), her often impenetrable writings and her hard to decipher mystical universe have discouraged more than one fan, who had adopted the American singer with Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink. On her first two albums, Amos revealed herself intimately, alone on the piano, and she talked about her rape, her uneasiness towards religion or her miscarriage. Overwhelemed with emotions provoked by her early work, many fans experienced a lot of trouble trying to figure out what she had to say in later efforts. They were under the impression that she was clouding issues.
yet, whether we like her or not, Amos is one of only a few artists today who does things their own way. This time for her seventh full-length album, Scarlet's Walk, Amos decided to explore the dark SIDE of the United States of America.
This exploration resulted in 18 songs, each a musical short story from its own distinct universe. From places such as Virginia, Los Angeles, in New Mexico, New York and Las Vegas, Amos searches every corner of the soul with tact and accuracy, elements that she seemed to have lost in her most recent efforts. Like a novelist, she invented an alter ego (Scarlet) who opens her travel book filled with little moments regarding characters who are looking for their identity and their personal essence.
With her new songs, the 39 year-old singer pursues her own quest. After she explored the male soul in her covers album Strange Little Girls, Amos returns to the preoccupations that have been on her mind for a long time: profound discontentment in life (Taxi Ride, Don't Make Me Come to Vegas), fear of death (ICSNY), and disillusion (Pancake, Carbon).
Tori Amos doesn't hide it: Scarlet's Walk was written in reaction to the events of September 11th. The singer traveled on America's dusty roads to find answers. She tried to find what's really hurting within Uncle Sam's country and gives it right back in your face without flags or intense patriotism.
Musically, even if the atmosphere of Scarlet's Walk is similar to From the Choirgirl Hotel, the songs are more pure. We must mention the subtle, but essential, presence of drummer Matt Chamberlain and bassist Jon Evans.
However, Tori Amos, true to herself, didn't completely lose her bad habits as she still has a tendency to do a little too much: we could have done with fewer songs. But let's rejoice: this album is a lot more well-grounded that her previous work. All in all, Scarlet's Walk reveals itself to be a fascinating adventure, where we find Tori Amos at the peak of her art.
***1/2 (3 1/2 star rating)
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