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Review of The Beekeeper from

Updated Fri, Mar 11, 2005 - 8:33am ET

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Read a review of The Beekeeper from the U.K. web site

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Thanks to Ruud van Melick for telling me about this review. You can read it online at or below:

TORI AMOS - The Beekeeper

Ms Amos is one of those songwriters who lets you decide for yourself what her lyrics mean. So it is up to you what "The Power Of Orange Knickers" is all about, but it is most likely about a woman scorned. It is however, a track title unlikely to be bettered in the imagination stakes this year. But Tori (we're on first name terms now she flashed her underwear) has never been accused of a deadbeat thoughts, and nine albums in, the flaming redhead is as individual as ever.

The daughter of a Methodist preacher - whose first recordings were metal-tinged believe it or not -but after that initial debacle, the sound of a fragile siren at the grand piano has been her inspired trademark. She's also renowned for both quality and quantity of tunes on each album. 'Scarlet's Walk' from late 2002 was so brim full of tunes, that any more would have needed to spill over onto a second disc. This one likewise. Her more-is-more attitude gives an excellent tunes for money ratio, but sheer quantity can sometimes detract from highlighting superiority.Only aminor quibble though.

Keeping a horticultural theme, the album is divided into six gardens ranging from the greenhouse, herbs, thorns, desert and rock. Don't expect the latter to be filled with rare Eddy Vedder guitar foliage though, as Tori is still most at ease when surrounded by her own echoed over-dubs and still sumptuous keyboards. Indeed the gardens are more lyrical signposts than major shifts in musical attitude. But "Witness" does meander around a pleasing few styles within a rambling six minutes, "Cars and Guitars" notionally more upbeat, and fellow rock garden bedfellow "Hoochie Woman" has a wonderful deeper piano feel.

Renowned for her chillier style, "Ireland" is a tad warmer (as you would expect being in the Greenhouse section), and less intense than she can drift into too - which is even more welcome. The title track keeps that warmth, and wraps it around some more complex rhythms. Gorgeous. "Sweet The Sting" has a lovely, rolling, lazy feel with an immediate hook line, and the "Sleeps With Butterflies" single is positively sunny.

She is loathed to admit this is auto-biographical (even if you can decode all the lyrics), but it is obviously personal, and definitely affected by the state of the world today. Immediately expressive throughout, and yet light enough to not get bogged down in her mission. Oh she still has a lot to say (pawing over all the lyrics will keep you occupied for ages) but enjoy the initial layer of melodic immediacy first.

There's still nothing to shake your rump to here ("Professional Widow" 8 years ago was a remix aberration) and by the end of 19 tracks of admittedly beautiful wailing, you might be reaching for the rockier / dancier end of your CD collection. But the subtle contrasts within her own quite individual style, make this release well up to scratch with her finest.

Her voice still warbles as deftly as her flirtatious fingers on the keyboard roam, which makes her sonic tapestry so perfect. This time it is not so angular either, the edges a little softer. Maybe the raven-headed one has mellowed a fraction. Less squawk and more easy croon. The balmy buzz of sounds that herald the premature burst of a hazy summer. But like the most proficient of beekeepers, you won't get stung here, and instead will appreciate the trickling texture of the finest honey. A very large pot indeed, worthy of the snackiest of Pooh bears.

Neil Chase
Music Editor

Posted by: Mikewhy

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