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3-star review of The Beekeeper in the San Diego Union-Tribune
February 17, 2005

Updated Fri, Feb 18, 2005 - 1:12am ET

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The February 17, 2005 edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper includes a 3-star review of The Beekeeper by David L. Coddon. You can now read it on The Dent.

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Thanks to Michelle Loase for sending this to me. You can read the review online at or below:

Tori times 18

Amos' 'The Beekeeper' is a heavyweight package, the more to savor

By David L. Coddon
3 stars

Whatever you've heard in advance about Tori Amos' ninth album, "The Beekeeper" (in stores Tuesday), forget it. Forget the six-gardens allegories and yin/yang parable constructs and queen bee/bee master synergies.

Just close your eyes, draw the drapes and savor Tori at her most introspective. And with 18 songs comprising nearly an hour and a half of music on a single disc, there's a whole lotta Tori to savor on "The Beekeeper," a prodigious work even by Amos' high standards.

Like most albums - single or double - containing that many tracks (excepting the "London Callings" of the world), "The Beekeeper" would be a better record pared down. Its more complex, intriguing songs are front-loaded among these 18, and anyway, you'd think Amos would want to hold something in reserve, for that inevitable 10th album.

Then again, why wait?

A famously private artist, Amos is not only revealing 18 songs' worth of herself on "The Beekeeper," but she's also released a book this month, "Tori Amos: Piece by Piece," co-written with journalist Ann Powers. To repeat: There's a whole lotta Tori going on.

One result of all this soul-baring is possibly the loveliest tune Amos has ever written and recorded, "Sleeps With Butterflies." With its lilting melody and simultaneous expression of both love and empowerment (I don't hold on to the tail of your kite / I'm not like the girls that you've known / But I believe I'm worth coming home to kiss away night), "Sleeps" is beguiling and disarming. And damned if Amos doesn't make the tinkling of piano keys sound like the flutter of a butterfly's wings.

Amos plays both Bosendorfer piano and B3 Hammond organ throughout "The Beekeeper." The mellifluousness of "Sleeps With Butterflies" aside, her piano-playing is customarily studied. The organ, on the other hand, proves effective when Amos ventures into R&B territory. "Sweet the Sting" and the swaggering "Hoochie Woman" would do En Vogue proud, to say nothing of Destiny's Child. "Witness," on which the B3 flexes its most muscle, finds Amos practically in gospel mode, though the words are decidedly un-churchlike:

Thought I had a witness, c'mon ... / Thought we had a friendship, c'mon ... / Thought I heard you whispering murder / Thought this witches brew was more than bulletproof / But words are like guns when you shoot the moon. ...

Lengthy and complex, "Witness" and the foreboding "Barons of Suburbia" (let's go ahead and nominate that one for an alternative theme song to "Desperate Housewives") function as mini-suites, a song form well-suited to Amos' tendency toward the meticulous and the self-indulgent. We've been cutting her slack on both counts for a dozen years, however, as we have with her occasional vocal affectations ("frame," for example as a two-syllable word, and "shame" pronounced "shy-em").

Besides going musically ambidextrous (piano and organ) on "The Beekeeper," Amos goes political. While "Mother Revolution" flatlines, the preceding "General Joy" boldly pronounces liberty gagged, and poses the question: Could it be the fates are protecting us from the hawks that have stolen the bird from the sky?

"General Joy" is indeed an ironical character.

"The Beekeeper" may lack sense of humor (completely) and restraint (not so much by degree, but in its breadth), but it does not lack thoughtfulness or the brand of cerebral confessionalism that Amos has proffered from her Y Kant Tori Read roots. Arriving just a week and a half after Britney Spears won her first Grammy Award, we can be all the more grateful for Tori Amos and the few and far between freethinkers like her.

Posted by: Mikewhy

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