April 23, 1998

Updated April 28, 1998

Toriphile Amy Hanauer and ToriPyro sent me an article on Tori that appeared in the Long Island (New York) newspaper Newsday on April 23, 1998 in the NightBeat EXTRA section. It is mainly a series of quotes from other interviews and general info about the new album. MetroJoe adds that this article was the cover story for a special section of the New York Newsday (Thursday April 23, 1998 edition) titled "NightBeat." It features two previously seen pictures of Tori. One of the photos is below and was scanned by ToriPyro.

Tori Amos, out with a new record, is expert at translating her traumas into music
(Newsday, April 23, 1998)

by Letta Tayler

Tori Amos excels at turning trauma into sonic fodder.

Her previous album, "Boys for Pele"--which features a photo of her suckling a piglet--dealt with the end of a seven-year relationship. "Cornflake Girl," off her sophomore album, described women betraying women. Her early a cappella song "Me and a Gun" recounted how she was raped.

Amos' strong new album, "From the Choirgirl Hotel," draws on her grief over having a miscarriage last year. The songs came tumbling out many with help from the "choir girls"--voices which, along with those of Vikings and fairies, Amos says are swirling inside her head.

"She's conviced she could hold back a glacier/but she couldn't keep Baby alive," Amos sings in the agonized waltz, "Spark."

"In my platforms I hit the floor/fell face down didn't help my brain out/then my baby came before I found the magic/how to keep her happy," she despairs in the bluesy "Playboy Mommy."

If Amos has much to grieve, she also has much to celebrate. Last month, she married Mark Howley, her sound engineer and father of the child she lost.

Her decision to wed surprised her. "I never had a fantasy of being a bride as a child after I realized that Robert Plant would never marry me," Amos told The Times of London recently.

She's also in the throes of a "sneak preview" club tour that brings her to Irving Plaza Thursday with a full band. (The show is sold out, naturally.) That's a dramatic departure from her previous gigs, in which she performed almost all songs solo on piano.

Adding to the good news, "From the Choirgirl Hotel," which will be released May 5 on the Atlantic label, contains some of Amos' strongest material yet. The album blends her trademark stark, classically influenced piano arrangements and tremulous vocals with cavernous, quasi-industrial rhythms, understated rock guitar and etheral strings that steer clear of sap.

Amos, 34, made a conscious decision to shift the focus of her album--and her tour--from her writhing, girl-attacking-the-piano image.

"I've taken the girl and the piano thing as far as I could," she told Billboard magazine. "I wanted to be a player with other players, to play with other musicians instead of having them play around me."

Though "Choirgirl" is rife with fantastic images, it contains fewer of the discombobulated ruminations that detractors cite when labeling Amos a New Age airhead. Not that they've completely vanishied: In "Spark" she sings of "trusting my sould to the ice cream assassin." In "Pandora's Aquarium," she cautions that "Foam can be dangerous with tape across my mouth." And, as in the past, she's not above occasional histronics.

Amos, a Methodist minister's daughter from North Carolina, started composing when she was 4 and was enrolled the prestigious Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore a year later. The school yanked her scholarship when she was 11 after she insisted on playing pop songs. She proceded to play Gershwin in gay bars in Washington, D.C., before making an ill-fated foray into hard rock with the album, "Y Kant TORI Read?"

Her subsequent solo albums contained attacks on patriarchal society and organized religion, and used bloody imagery to explore sex and sacrifice.

With her new album and her marriage, Amos believes she's worked through many of her traumas. The choir girl voices told her, "Look, you can't be a mother right now, but you can be a woman," she told Spin magazine. "It's a hard thing, growing up, but I think you can do it with grace."

Especially with a little help from otherworldly spirits.

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