September 18, 2001

Added Sept 24, 2001

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Tori's Strange Little Girls album was reviewed on September 18, 2001 by the Dotmusic web site in the U.K.. Thanks to Baxter Jeffs and Laurence Wilson for telling me. It seems like a really nice review!


"What on earth are they thinking?" the flummoxed women ask. "No matter what we do it's never good enough" the exasperated men respond.

For Tori Amos, gender miscommunication is familiar territory and with 'Strange Little Girls' she hits upon the simple solution of getting answers straight from the horse's mouth. Taking the work of 12 male songwriters, Amos has dismantled each one in the guise of a female character (each one strikingly represented in the album's artwork), whose reinterpretations try to get them to the holy grail of what makes a man tick.

At first, the album seems like the Rosetta stone, trying to decode these supposed love songs. But what it really does is guide the listener through a maze of issues, such as self- discovery, identity and the walls we put up to protect ourselves from each other. Each track is a classic in their own right but Amos shows such creativity and love that she is able to claim them as her own.

From the Velvet Underground's 'New Age', delivered as a sparse yet poignant wail of grief, to the Massive Attack trip-hop spin she gives 10cc's dated 'I'm Not In Love', Amos bids to elevates these covers with a grace and passion that, in some cases, was only hinted at originally. Even with 'Time', already a diamond that did not need polishing, Amos re-ignites Tom Waits's fragile gem to a fiery brilliance that only serves him and the song proud.

However, the stellar track is '97' Bonnie and Clyde', Eminem's tale of a father telling his toddler daughter about killing her mother. Amos's version is a softly spoken, chilling lullaby that highlights the menacing (and misogynist) lyrical content and points out the true horror of the song.

It's easy to dismiss Tori Amos as a flaky, pagan-worshipping, fairy-believing fruitcake. Also, it could be said that she will not succeed in her 'mission' because many muso males (who are too busy not getting laid and talking about the latest underground sensation that only him and 10 of his equally sad pals have heard of) will just denigrate this album outright as a chick record.

But do that and miss out on a truly remarkable piece of work. 'Strange Little Girls' crystallizes both the journey and the destination of an artist, a feat nearly impossible to achieve. She is at the top of her game, and hits it out of the park both concept-wise and musically. And if it helps communication, even just to argue with the opposite sex about the validity of the endeavor, then Ms Amos's work is done.

By Lisa Oliver

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