Read a review of The Beekeeper from the March 2, 2005 edition of The State News, which is the newspaper for Michigan State University.
Thanks to jamee for telling me about this article. You can read it online at statenews.com or below:
Overall: 4 stars
Music: 4 stars
Lyrics: 3 stars
Vocals: 4 stars
Replay Value: 4 stars
Tori Amos, music critic hash over new album
By EMILY BINGHAM
Since Tori Amos first rocked onto mainstream music's radar more than a decade ago, we've seen the many facets of her personality. Angry Tori. Playful Tori. Provocative Tori.
But until her ninth and newest album, "The Beekeeper" which dropped last Tuesday, it had been more than two years since any kind of Tori had produced material for public consumption.
Given the quality of work on this disc, however, it's clear that Tori is back in a very big way. Only this time, we're seeing a completely new side to this singer/songwriter/pianist. And apparently she's got gospel choirs, vintage organs and even Afro-Cuban drums backing her up.
"The Beekeeper" is a beautiful album that tones down some of Amos' shock-me attitude without losing any of her intensity.
The depth on the album could be attributed to the heavy religious undertones on much of the material. According to Amos, much of the inspiration for "The Beekeeper" came from her concern about the current state of religion, which prompted her to delve into early Christian texts and her own faith-based roots.
"I was troubled by how certain leaders were using Jesus' teachings in order to justify their agenda, whatever that may be," she said in a phone interview Friday evening. "In this case, it was for violence. Therefore the minister's daughter in me decided I needed to do my research."
Amos said she was guided to certain texts called the Gnostic gospels, where she learned about the contributions of women to early Christianity. Paired with her own observations of the current state of the world, Amos found she had inspiration for a new record.
"I believe when there is destruction everywhere, the only way to combat destruction is to create," Amos said. "Instead of banging your head against the wall, you have to put pen to paper."
Nineteen tracks round out this album, ranging from thoughtful ballads ("Mother Revolution") to emotionally charged, Sunday Mass-inspired songs with gospel choirs ("Witness"). Grounded by the lush, holy sound of the B3 Hammond organ, the songs really come alive.
"I wanted to create a work where the content was really ... ferocious and the sound was seductive and the sound would draw you in," Amos said. "Intensity is something I like to play with in different forms."
On tracks such as "Sweet the Sting" and "Original Sinsuality," Amos coyly uses play-on-words and earthy tones to create music that exudes sexuality. She is in her element here, deftly changing her voice from breathy to gravely to commanding, depending on the attitude of each song.
There are moments where Amos loses a bit of oomph, including on the Damien Rice collaboration titled "The Power of Orange Knickers." But then Amos picks right back up again, keeping the disc alive by threading the beekeeper theme through songs such as the melancholy "Toast" and the album's lengthy title track.
"The Beekeeper" reacquaints us with the proud, talented woman that is Tori Amos. The album is arguably one of her best, elevating her to new heights as a musician and once again cementing her place as one of the definitive artists of our generation.