menju56 tells me there is a review of The Beekeeper in the February 20, 2005 edition of the U.K. newspaper The Mail On Sunday. Read it now on The Dent.
Tori's just as sweet, sexy and odd as ever
Epic, out tomorrow
3 stars (out of 5)
At the Grammy Awards last weekend, 107 prizes were handed out; including Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s). If they had a category for Most Complicated Concept Album, Tori Amos would be looking good for next year.
Her ninth album isn't just about beekeeping, as its name suggests; it also deals with gardening, female archetypes and the early Christian church. According to her website, it is 'an allegory about the coming storm and one woman's journey through it.' It is also 'about the struggle to find a bedrock of truth beneath the tangle of lies, mythology, casual assumptions and political manipulation that have formed the cultural landscape of the USA today'. Put like that, it may be the most ambitious record in pop history.
Amos, who comes from North Carolina but lives in Cornwall with her husband and daughter, is fearless. She has the confidence to be overtly sexual as she plays her piano on stage, even though, in a horrific example of a fan's ingratitude, she was once sexually assaulted by a member of her own audience to whom she had offered a lift. She wrote a song about it and founded a charity, Rainn, to support victims of rape, abuse and incest.
She's so unafraid that she even let a journalist write a book about the making of this album, opening the doors to the creative process in a way that would give many pop stars a heart attack. The book, Tori Amos: Piece By Piece, by Ann Powers, is out now and Amos is helping to promote it with appearances at American bookstores.
Books mean a lot to her: she called her greatest hits album Tales Of A Librarian. While writing these 19 new songs, she read up on the gnostic gospels (the ones that didn't make it into the Bible) and devoured a book called The Shamanic Way Of The Bee: Ancient Wisdom And Healing Practices Of The Bee Master. At this point, the British record buyer, more attuned to the cheery simplicities of Robbie Williams, may be tempted to run the other way, but that would be a mistake.
At her best, Amos is a magical combination of slinky sensuality, singular thinking and beautiful sounds. She hits that spot straight away here, opening with three songs that would grace any iPod. Parasol is a folk piano ballad, Sweet The Sting is lilting reggae-funk led by a Hammond organ, and The Power Of Orange Knickers is a rolling piano pop song as memorable as its title and has Damien Rice on backing vocals. On all three songs, Amos sings with an easy intimacy.
The remaining 70 minutes are not so rewarding. Editing has never been Amos's strong point and while there is no rubbish here, there is a fair amount of meandering about on her familiar turf between Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush, which is hard to engage with.
Plenty of details shine out: an elegant melody on Cars And Guitars, a martial rhythm on Martha's Foolish Ginger, crunchy Afro-Cuban drums on Hoochie Woman, shimmering electronica on the title track and a hefty gospel chorus on Witness, but only Ireland matches the first three tracks.
Amos remains a bewitching and bewildering figure, and this is an album for firm fans and MP3 cherrypickers.