Article About Tori's New Album In Alternative Press

Added December 2, 1997

There is a Choirgirl Album Review in the April 29, 1998 edition of the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Thanks to Steve Williams for telling me. You can also read this review online at the San Francisco Bay Guardian web site.

Music - Grooves

Tori Amos
From the Choirgirl Hotel

THE LAST TWO years have seen their share of career-shifting transformations by women singers: Bj–rk went from dancing queen to sonic expressionist on Homogenic; Ricki Lee Jones pulled an impressive techno turn on Ghostyhead; Madonna accomplished a sleek pirouette with Ray of Light; and rumor has it Courtney Love plans to unveil a new, shiny persona should Hole's next CD ever materialize.

So it goes with Tori Amos's fourth album, in which the former child prodigy abandons her hermetic keyboard world to crash the twin planets of rock and roll and -- for lack of a better word -- electronica. Rhythm rules From the Choirgirl Hotel, reverberating in ripe overlays of programmed percussion (courtesy of George Porter Jr.) and live drums (Matt Chamberlain). Amos matches her heavy beats with a new appreciation for raunch, recording for the first time with a rock lineup (guitarist Steve Caton and ex-Beck bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen).

While the album includes occasional nods to Amos's signature lilting songcraft, the new sounds outweigh the old: "Raspberry Swirl" is a heady dance number, and "Iieee" drops world beat into a noisy industrial jungle. On the bluesy "She's Your Cocaine," the fey piano girl yowls like a rawk mama, and the anomalous "Cruel" drapes her wrathful purr across a bed of skewed, trip-hoppy samples.

"She's convinced she could hold back a glacier / But she couldn't keep Baby alive," Amos sighs in "Spark," referring to the 1996 miscarriage she claims prompted her to write, as catharsis, the songs on From the Choirgirl Hotel. Despite its sad inspiration, the album avoids the claustrophobic melancholy of Amos's last CD, Boys for Pele, opting instead for a daring -- and yes, professionally prudent -- stylistic expansion. Given the right combination of elements, it seems, breaking down is as inspiring as it is painful. Tori Amos plays Tues/5, Fillmore, S.F. (510) 762-BASS.

Neva Chonin

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