The April 2005 issue of the online magazine Being There includes a 4 star review (out of 5) of Tori's new album The Beekeeper by Lisa Hood-Anklewicz. You can read the review online at beingtheremag.com.
You can also read the review below:
Tori Amos - The Beekeeper
(Limited Edition with DVD) Epic
Reviewed by Lisa Hood-Anklewicz
If you have grown up with Tori Amos over the course over her career, you can map her development as an artist and as a person through her music. Little Earthquakes was the quiet girl at the piano emerging and standing up for herself. Boys For Pele gave us Tori as a the rebel, and from the choirgirl hotel and To Venus and Back gave Amos the space to experiment with her sonic structures. Her last release Scarlet's Walk was a grown up Amos, looking back on her own history, mapping the Native spirit in America. Now with her ninth record, The Beekeeper, Amos' music continues to be reflective of herself, as her age and wisdom grow.
The interesting thing about The Beekeeper is the way in which Amos has chosen to present it. Consisting of 19 tracks (20 if you count the bonus track on the DVD), The Beekeeper comes with a concept. Working with the hexagram shape of the honey comb, Amos has created six gardens in which she has "planted" each of the songs. Suddenly, listening to the album takes two very different paths, one straight forward from start to finish, or manipulated into the gardens. With the Limited Edition copy of the CD, the accompanying DVD allows Amos to walk the listener through the gardens and the songs that are in each one, which provides an opportunity to interpret the album in a different light.
At the core of the album seems to be the Orchard Garden, where knowledge and the essence of life are the underlying themes. Centred here is "Original Sinsuality", a song in which Amos redefines the concept of original sin and the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden. Moving out from this concept, Amos walks the listener through themes in each garden; self-exploration; communication; betrayal; union; decisions at a crossroads. All of these themes have been ever present in Amos' past work, but in those instances the texture of the lyrics are left slightly hidden, open for the listeners interpretation. The songs on The Beekeeper are lyrically, much more obvious with their intention. Then, with the DVD material, Amos has taken the opportunity to lay out the meanings even more plainly.
The majority of the songs on the album are still strong and work well in the concept of the gardens. However, there are a handful of songs that, while not being poor, are a departure from what is typical of Amos. "Ireland" is an extremely catchy tune, however the opening lyric "Driving in my Saab / on my way to Ireland" is a little distracting, as most people probably don't care what Amos is driving, and may distance some listeners. Structurally, Amos has also leaned more towards simple structure (Chorus, Verse, Repeat) in many songs. Song structure is something that in the past, Amos has often challenged and made her own.
Amos' has never made it a secret that she uses her personal experiences from life in many of her songs. On The Beekeeper, three songs express what she has faced recently. "Toast" is a very sweet, emotional ballad that ends the album as a nod to her brother Michael, who died in a car accident last November. "Ribbons Undone" turns to her life with motherhood and in the title track, "The Beekeeper", takes you into Amos' experience of having to face her mother's mortality and the fact that Amos was unwilling to let her go. The idea of the beekeeper, is the one that watches the hive, keeps them working, and keeps them healthy, and maintains the cycle of life. "Wrap yourself around the tree of life / and the dance of the infinity of the hive".
The Beekeeper is a very ambitious project for Amos to have undertaken, and despite a few flaws, it has been presented extremely well. Allowing yourself to follow the trip that Amos has laid out through the gardens, leave you with a deeper understanding of the album, and creates a place for your mind to explore the themes and ideas further on your own.