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October 2002

Added Oct 23, 2002

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A review of Scarlet's Walk appeared at sometime in October 2002. Thanks to Sandi for telling me.

Tori Amos, Scarlet's Walk (Epic)

It's been a decade since she released Little Earthquakes, and two years after that Under the Pink, the heavy-hitting one-two punch that put her on the map. Her musical and lyrical styles are brutally honest and introspective. Though Amos doesn't have the ethereal loneliness to her voice like Sarah Mclachlan or Kate Bush, she can venture into the high register from time to time for a bit of a vocal workout. Yet key to Tori's voice is you're never quite sure if she's fragile or solid as a rock -- the subtle shifts in her tonal timbre keep you guessing, and that, at least for me, is the attraction.

At the beginning of "A Sorta Fairytale," for starters, her voice is timid, yet by the first chorus, there's a bit of gravel, and you sense pillars of strength supporting the individual. As the song progresses, and the vocals double and multi-track, the instrumentation building ever so slightly, you get a sense of emotional stabilization.

Unfortunately, the record company decided to offer up only six songs to reviewers, afraid of critics who might instantly shove the entire album onto the internet. And my first reaction is, if you're going to short the reviewer, do you care about the artist? Or for that matter, the buying public? It seems a desperate attempt to curb online thievery.

Rant aside, Amos plods her way through the six tunes, and I say "plods" because there's no ripper here, instead you get a solemn trek across the rock landscape, though the cut "Taxi Ride" does get slightly funky, and sounds happier than the others. Amos tries to connect the songs and engage the listener in a story line that follows a character across the U.S. from West to East Coast, but again, with just six songs out of who knows how many, it's disjointed thematically.

Her voice is solid as ever, and that's what really matters. Instrumentation is minimal, her piano work is capable, and she'll get you wistful in a heartbeat. Though it may not be up to the caliber of her first two discs, what is presented here does show that Amos has maintained an artistic integrity, and while she may not get tons of airplay or voluminous amounts of press touting her, she's still okay -- in my book, anyway.

-- B.R.

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