A 3-star review of Scarlet's Walk appeared in the October 27, 2002 edition of the Sunday Republican newspaper in Springfield, MA. Many thanks to Liz Slavkovsky. Read it at masslive.com or below.
Kevin O'Hare's 'Playback'
One woman's journey to self-discovery
Tori Amos' new CD 'Scarlet's Walk' is billed as a "sonic novel."
There've been vast volumes chronicling the American experience during the past two centuries, but it's safe to say that Tori Amos brings a brand new perspective to it all on her latest album "Scarlet's Walk."
Latino revolutionaries, messiah figures, misogynist homophobes and faded porno stars all weave their way in and out of the disc, which details one woman's journey to self-discovery while traveling across America.
It's not an easy album to decipher, but that's typical of Amos, the ethereal pianist, whose delicate melodies and deliberately oblique lyrics have attracted a deeply devoted fan base during the past decade.
Her last album, "Strange Little Girls," found her reinterpreting a series of songs written by men, but "Scarlet's Walk," is something completely different, and something that could have only been penned by Amos.
Billed as "a sonic novel," it follows Scarlet, crisscrossing her way from the West Coast to the East, encountering a series of colorful characters at each stop on her long and winding road trip. They range from Amber Waves, the aging adult film star found on the first track, to a manic depressive named Carbon and an old flame known as The Prince of Black Jacks, whose presence complicates Scarlet's plans on "Don't Make Me Come to Vegas."
Precocious, but pretentious too often for her own good, Amos can get annoying, offering lines like "The gospel changes meaning/if you follow John or Paul/and could you ever let it be/The Mary of it all," in the string backed "Mrs. Jesus," or rambling on about putting "our snowflake under a microscope," in "Strange."
Still, as out there as she is, Amos does find tranquility base, and there are moments of breathtaking beauty here, especially the angelic "Your Cloud," which is as good a song as she has ever written. Others, including "I Can't See New York," with its indirect references to Sept. 11, the regret-filled "A Sorta Fairytale," or the exotic title track make this an often mesmerizing affair.
The songwriter gets solid backing from Jon Evans on bass, Matt Chamberlain on drums, and several guitarists, including Robbie McIntosh, Mac Aladdin and David Torn.
Amos isn't about to produce an album that can be digested easily, but there are rewards for those who take the leap of faith and settle in with her and Scarlet on their mystical journey.
Tori Amos is slated to play the careerbuilder.com Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, Conn. Nov. 16
Rating scale: 1 (poor) to 5 (a classic)
Kevin O'Hare can be reached at email@example.com
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