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New Haven Register (US)
weekly publication
April 7, 2005

Tori! Tori! Tori!

by Patrick Ferrucci
Register Entertainment Editor

Piano queen Tori Amos can't count a real hit song among her many successes, coming closest with "Crucify" or "Silent All These Years" from her 1991 debut album "Little Earthquakes." Yet the cultish phenomenon continues selling millions of records and packing theaters around the country.

Her standing as a controversial feminist who writes intricate and complex piano-based songs that emote strong imagery about religion, sex and other similarly touchy issues precede her wherever she may travel.

But during a recent phone conversation, Amos couldn't be anything further from that reputation. She's laying out on a porch in Florida, enjoying the weather and rehearsing for her upcoming U.S. tour, which stops in Hartford at The Bushnell Sunday. Her 4-year-old daughter, Natashya, readies herself for a trip to the aquarium and her giggles can be heard. Amos warns her not to feed the alligators and then laughs.

Stretched out and trying to get her body used to the twistings and contortions ubiquitous during her live performances, the 41-year-old songwriter says she wanted this tour, in support of her eighth full-length disc, "The Beekeeper," to feature her and her instrument, without her band.

"Some songs only work with a band; they're hungry for the rhythmic elements, and some are better alone," she explains, "but others can work in both worlds. Those are the fun ones."

For the songs on "The Beekeeper," Amos will have her dexterous hands full with complex arrangements that yearn for more keyboards and Hammond organs. Although the album harbors a sunnier disposition, musically, than anything the gothic-tinted chanteuse has released, Amos says the way she wrote them didn't change.

"Music is what I wake up feeling in my bones and what I can feel in my soul," she says. "It's a feeling I get when I'm standing in line at a coffee shop; it's about observing.

"But, it's not like the song is about standing in a line in a coffee shop,"
she laughs, "but more about the observance. In a past life, I think I was an owl, just an owl on the shoulder of someone cute with a brain."

It's imaginative and specific details like the owl comment that has endeared Amos to so many fans. First emerging on the singer/songwriter scene in 1991 with "Little Earthquakes," the artist quickly made her way to MTV with complex tunes -- both musically and lyrically.

"Me and a Gun," a song off the debut, which chronicled Amos' own experience with rape, made fans and critics take note. Many of her subsequent albums, including the hits "Under the Pink" and "Boys for Pele," quickly went platinum without the benefit of a charting single, proving that the singer's fans were rabid and loyal.

For "The Beekeeper," Amos looked to "The Secret Book of John" and "The Gnostic Gospels" for her muse. The 19-song record is broken up into six different parts -- or "gardens" -- that tell a multifaceted story. "It's something that I was very interested in and wanted to tell, but it's about so much more than those texts, and it has a lot of complex arrangements -- that is the language I wanted to use to tell this story," she explains.

Fans can expect a healthy dose of "Beekeeper" songs live, but there will also be a cover-song segment in the show where Web voters determine which tunes she'll play. No matter what her setlist contains, Amos says, the songs won't sound sparse without a band. "There will be a lot of keyboards and two Hammonds." Just what her fans expect.

Patrick Ferrucci can be reached at pferrucci@nhregister.com.

IF YOU GO Event: Tori Amos When: 8 p.m. Sunday Place: The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford Tickets: $41.50 Info: (860) 987-5900


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