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The Record (US)
New Jersey newspaper
Friday, February 28, 2003

Trip across America

Tori Amos takes 'Scarlet' down a melodic path


by Ed Condran

caption: On her new album, Tori Amos says she's "exploring a world people think they know about but that's usually far from the truth."

It was evident after the release of Tori Amos's third album, 1996's "Boys for Pele," that the quirky flame-haired recording artist was shifting gears.

It was the start of a period in which Amos experimented with abstract arrangements, double albums, and obscure covers. It caused some of the vocalist-pianist's fan base to abandon her, longing for the classic song structure she had delivered on her first two albums, 1992's acclaimed "Little Earthquakes" and 1994's gorgeous "Under the Pink."

Those fans will be happy to know that Amos's latest album, "Scarlet's Walk," marks a return to the days of "Pink." The disc (on Epic) is a warm, melodic work, which follows a woman's physical and spiritual journey across America. Coming off like a sonic novel, "Scarlet" floats from city to city, encountering new lovers and experiences.

"'Scarlet' sometimes has everything to do with me and sometimes she has nothing to do with me," Amos said in a call from Boca Raton, Fla.

The disc's catchy "Amber Waves" kicks off the album, inspired by one of the characters of the film "Boogie Nights" as well as a porn star Amos met.

"I'm exploring a world people think they know about but that's usually far from the truth," she said.

"Sweet Sangria" finds Scarlet in Austin, Texas, where she briefly falls for a Latin revolutionary.

"She can't fight his battle," Amos said. "She believes in his cause but can't load the gun. She doesn't believe in the death of innocents, which mirrors how I feel about what may happen [in Iraq]."

But "I Can't See New York" is the most eerie and poignant track. Scarlet witnesses a plane crash in midair. Amos wrote the song a few months before 9/11.

Amos, 39, will showcase tunes from her new effort at sold-out shows Thursday through Saturday at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan. All shows will kick off with the atmospheric "Wampum Prayer," followed by the compelling "A Sorta Fairytale."

Throughout the conversation, Amos made occasional references to her tour merchandise.

"You just have to see it," she said. The North Carolina native, who splits time between England and South Florida, finally couldn't help but note what is printed on her tour shirt.

"It says 'Trim Your Bush' and there's a rendering on there you have to see," she said. "The shirt reflects how I feel about the war. The world is a pretty fragile place. We can't just go off and destroy people. It's not just me who feels this way. Just ask Scarlet and she'll tell you the same thing."

WHO: Tori Amos.

WHAT: Alternative rock.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday, next Friday, and March 8.

WHERE: Radio City Music Hall, 50th Street and Sixth Avenue, Manhattan. (212) 247-4777; www.radiocity.com


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