There is a review of Scarlet's Walk in the October 18, 2002 edition of The Times newspaper in the U.K. Thanks to Anne Leonard for sending it in.
Voyages of the heart
by david sinclair
Tori's heartfelt gobbledegook or Tracy's taut truth?
WADING THROUGH Tori Amos's Scarlet's Walk (Epic), a convoluted musical account of one woman's imaginary journey across America, demands almost as much effort from the listener as it does from the character in the odyssey it describes. In an earlier era of pop it would have been called a concept album, but Amos prefers the description "a sonic novel of sorts".
With a vague geographical backdrop which -- according to Amos's notes -- encompasses Los Angeles, Delaware, New Orleans, Chicago and all points in between, it is actually a travelogue of the heart as much as it is to do with the road itself. Few stones in the pit of the Amos psyche are left unturned as she negotiates a fractured emotional narrative that comes complete with detours into Native American folklore (Strange, Wampum Prayer), post-September 11 melodrama (I Can't See New York), revolutionary politics (Pancake) and the birth of her first child (Gold Dust). Oddly, it was recorded in Cornwall.
The good news is that Amos has rediscovered her appetite for playing to the gallery. The current single, A Sorta Fairytale, with its lovely, lilting melody, has a Madonna-esque quality to it, while Sweet Sangria is one of several performances which show what a formidably funky trio of instrumentalists Amos, the bass player Jon Evans and drummer Matt Chamberlain can be. And her singing -- as sexy and dangerous as a rattlesnake -- is better than ever.
But don't ask me what she is on about. Her lyrics veer from right on to right off the radar in the tinkling of an ivory: "It seems in vogue/To be a closet misogynist homophobe . . ./ Messiahs need people dying in their name/You say, ëI ordered you a pancake'." Hello?
(it then goes on to talk about tracey chapman's new album)