This article appeared in the December 6, 2002 edition of the Seattle Times newspaper shortly before Tori performed in Seattle.
Many thanks to Renee Frigon and Richard Handal for bringing it to my attention. You can read it online at seattletimes.nwsource.com or below if the link does not work.
Tori Amos' complex, mystical journey brings her to Seattle
By Emily Russin
Special to The Seattle Times
Call her a singer, songwriter, pianist, goddess, but sonic novelist?
It's a moniker that Tori Amos, the mystical, henna-haired performer with the ethereal voice, wants us to embrace in "Scarlet's Walk," her seventh album in a decade.
Amos' self-described "sonic novel" covers both emotional and literal ground through the eyes of road-tripping Scarlet, who takes us fervently across the country. From her Las Vegas interaction with a porn star named Amber Waves to the Trail of Tears, a short-lived romance with a guy called Crazy and a portentous airplane descent into New York City, Scarlet's destination seems to be the journey itself.
Through Amos' trademark siren song, juiced up with poppier and more upbeat rhythms, Scarlet makes a modern-day pilgrimage in search of the real U.S. of A. Drawing parallels between Sept. 11 and Native American history, her America has sustained some pretty deep wounds. Mostly written post-9/11, the lyrics in Amos' 18-track narrative don't cohere easily, nor does her alter ego's complicated itinerary make sense until you grapple with the microscopic liner notes. What you get instead is a beguiling assortment of moods and details, tug-of-war tempos and flights of fancy.
Amos isn't necessarily concerned with how accessible she is, or there wouldn't be hundreds of home pages devoted to her. Those who want to listen hard and analyze do, and those who don't still gravitate toward her otherworldly voice.
Beginning with 1992's "Little Earthquakes," Amos demonstrated sublime confessional immediacy in "Me and a Gun," an a cappella retelling of her own rape. The North Carolina-bred daughter of a conservative Methodist minister and part-Cherokee mother also scandalized certain segments of the population when she brought self-gratification and religion into the same sphere, in songs like "Icicle."
A former piano prodigy, Amos got kicked out of the prestigious Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore for wanting to play by ear. She played in bars, recorded a bad pop-metal record and returned to the stage alone with her Bˆsendorfer to great acclaim with albums like 1994's "Under the Pink" and 1998's "From the Choirgirl Hotel." Last year's controversial "Strange Little Girls" featured covers of male artists as disparate as Slayer, Tom Waits and Eminem.
Expect an emphasis on "Scarlet's Walk" when Amos, her keyboard and three-man band roll into town on Tuesday to play the lower bowl of KeyArena. Most of all, expect a reverent and appreciative crowd that has already committed most of her songs to memory.
Opening for Amos is 21-year-old Howie Day, who sounds a little like Dave Matthews one minute and Bono the next. His self-released debut, "Australia," features the Orono, Maine, native delivering urgent songs about love and loss with an acoustic guitar and some fancy effects-pedal footwork.
Emily Russin: email@example.com.
Tori Amos, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, KeyArena, Seattle Center; $36, 206-628-0888 or www.ticketmaster.com