Read a review of The Beekeeper from the February 21, 2005 edition of The New York Times.
Thanks to franco franus, Kyall Glennie, and Renee for first emailing me about this. You can read this review online at nytimes.com or below:
By Jon Pareles
Tori Amos has been settling down lately. She has cut back on her fluttery vocal leaps into the high register, her busy classical piano filigrees and her most abstruse verbal free-associations. On her new album, "The Beekeeper" (Epic), she offers something like a straightforward love song in "Sleeps With Butterflies," thinking about a lover who is flying off somewhere and promising, "You say the word you know I will find you/Or if you need some time I don't mind."
Ms. Amos will never be a conventional songwriter. She established herself in the 1990's with musically intricate but startlingly blunt songs about a young woman's desires and traumas, gaining fans who have stayed with her as she moved from confession to character studies, from storytelling to abstraction. She still has a lot on her mind: lust, faith, motherhood, inconstancy, war, restlessness, death. And she has enough ambition to swirl them together in songs that spin dreamlike images and take musical detours at whim.
"The Beekeeper" is a generous, even overstuffed album, 19 songs and 79 minutes long, with an elaborate scheme involving six "gardens" of songs inspired by the six-sided cells of a honeycomb. (Ms. Amos has no fear of preciousness.) The lyrics are still collages of impressions, though usually with enough clues to piece them together. But "The Beekeeper" is also her most down-to-earth album in years, because Ms. Amos has decided she doesn't have to pack every impulse into every song. Sometimes, now, a simple melody and a steady groove are enough.
Along with her piano, Ms. Amos often plays Hammond organ on "The Beekeeper," and the combination leads her back toward soul music in songs like "Sweet the Sting" and "Witness." There is a sense of ease in the music that Ms. Amos has rarely shown before, and there are some glimmers of humor, where she plays with her voice in "Cars and Guitars" and "Hoochie Woman." When Ms. Amos does turn rhapsodic, usually as she thinks about politics and religion in songs like "General Joy" and "Original Sinsuality," there's still some breathing space.
The most telling songs are the quietest ones, particularly "The Beekeeper" itself. Leaving the piano behind, Ms. Amos places her voice within an eerie, electronic production, singing about a reassuring angel of death who sings, "I promise that she will awake Tomorrow Somewhere." No less ambitious than before, Ms. Amos is finding ways to make her songs more approachable.