Orange County Register
May 2, 1998

Added May 3, 1998

There is an Album Review In The Orange County Register from around early May. I think the exact date may be May 2, 1998. Many thanks to Kerry for sending it to me.

Here is a review of "from the choirgirl hotel" from the Orange County Register. It is written by Ben Werner. He gave the album four out of five stars.

Tori Amos is the sort of artist who, to achieve brilliance in her work, requires trauma. Something to bring about a catharsis. It's not enough just to have pixies and fairies (and now this imagined "choirgirl hotel") buzzing in her head and dictating lyrics. From the inside it may seem as though they are her muses, and for the ardent fan such new-age flightiness can become enthralling - figuring out which part of Tori's brain is lashing out on which song, deconstructing her often whimsical and even more impenetrable lyrics, checking every sexy sigh and dramatic pause for hints...basically trying to crack into her psyche.

Yet when Tori's life goes through intense change, the results go well beyond feigning poses. This was evident on her remarkable debut, "Little Earthquakes," and the equally remarkable "from the choirgirl hotel" (in stores Tuesday). On her past two albums, 1996's "Boys for Pele" and 1994's "Under the Pink," Tori had little to say and seemed only to be going through the motions, hoping that a complexity of arranging would cover or a lack of ideological inventiveness. (personal note - little to say?!?!?!?)

Here, in "choirgirl hotel's" strongest moments, Tori accomplishes both. Masterful stabs at commercialism (without sacrificing integrity) such as "Rasperry Swirl, the sprawling "Liquid Diamonds" and, especially, the dirty "She's Your Cocaine" are high-water marks for the performer (who, like countless other women in rock, is becoming less a singer or a songwriter and more a force to be reckoned with).

But it's the soul of the record that is so moving. Where "Little Earthquakes ostensibly (and, in the case of "Me and a Gun," directly) dealt with Tori's rape, "choirgirl hotel" tenuously tries to make sense of her recent miscarriage. Still, though the lead-off single "Spark" and the possibly self-accusing "Playboy Mommy" speak of it in the bravest terms, the album doesn't dwell on Tori's tragic loss. Rather, the experience propelled her to step out of her shell and into a band setting.

The results are better than anyone could have expected. Tori the hyper- critical artiste who tends to play at her own, constantly varying, impossible- to-chart tempo, sinks in perfectly with her support (including drummer Matt Chamberlin). All of the cuts here, we're told, are complete takes, which heightens the often tense atmosphere, leaving an impression of a fevered state.

So beguiling is it that the moments that are obviously after-thoughts (say, the strings on "Jackie's Strength") are irksome and out of place. Likewise, one track ("Northern Lad") seems to reign in Tori's wild-girl stance too much, while another ("Hotel") is too unleashed.

Still, "choirgirl hotel" is a plush, sometimes frightful and definitely secretive establishment where every mood has its own room. When I listen, I see "The Shining's" Overlook Hotel, thought I doubt it's intended to be that spooky. (Nevertheless, "Pandora's Aquarium," one of the best things she'll likely ever write and which sports Tori's trademark traipsing piano figures against a jazzy Pink Floyd groove, is wicked.)

From sadness springs sagacity. And, without sounding crass or celebratory, her loss is our gain. A great album.

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