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October 31, 2002

Added Nov 3, 2002

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Many thanks to Lucy for this review!

Tori Amos paints mystical music of love lost Tori Amos is truly one of the great musical enigmas of our time. While having never scored a top-10 single, guest-starred on a sitcom or spawned a national dance craze, Tori nonetheless possesses one of the most rabid, devoted fan bases of any performer in the last 20 years.

Her mystical musical mirage of fairies and demons, of love lost and love renounced, of insufficient deities and the women who look after them, continues to capture and enrapture the hearts, minds and souls of men and women of no particular demographic. Her originality is so idiosyncratic that it would be impossible to attempt to craft another singer into a "similar" style: you're either Tori or you're sadly pretending to be Tori. (The critics and PR people who attempted to market such piano-driven singers as FionaApple and Vanessa Carlton as "similar to Tori" were doing disservices to all parties involved.) After last year's controversial collection of cover songs, "Strange Little Girls" (which included a notorious rendition of Eminem's "'97 Bonnie and Clyde"), Amos returns to the uncontrollable joy of her fans a mere one year later with a lengthy new album entitled "Scarlet's Walk." This is Amos' first collection of new original material in three years and her longest since 1996's "Boys for Pele."

"Scarlet's Walk" is a concept album that chronicles a musical journey across America as seen through the eyes of Scarlet, the heroine (portrayed by Amos in the accompanying photography). Amos wrote the album while making her own journey across America last year touring in support of "Strange Little Girls."

There's no easy way to say this, but "Scarlet's Walk" is a little disappointing. The overall tone of the album musically speaking is mellow, plain and rather uninteresting. After the jagged little pill of "Strange Little Girls," this one goes down like a gel tab. This is by far the calmest and least experimental album Amos has released since 1994's "Under the Pink."

The album never really breaks from it's smooth-sailing reverie, which would be fine if the music was prettier. Instead, we're given spare soft-rock accompaniments, which still sound like they're drowning out Amos' evocative piano. Consisting of 18 tracks and clocking in at 74 minutes, "Scarlet's Walk" could definitely have benefited from a bit of musical diversity.

One's enjoyment of this album ultimately hinges on one thing: one's reception of Amos herself. "Scarlet's Walk" is a one-woman show if ever there was one, and by the end of the album, one feels as though they've just spent a very long time on the phone, listening to Tori pitch them a bunch of song ideas she's been kicking around. So, while "Scarlet's Walk" isn't likely to earn Amos too many new listeners, it will still be eagerly embraced by those for whom Tori could never do any wrong: her fans.

By Jason LeRoy, Daily Kent Stater

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