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The Advertiser (Australia)
May 12, 2005
Tori Amos is a woman of intriguing contradictions, finds STEPHEN DOWNIE.
A cease-fire is in place within Tori Amos. She's still every bit the flame-haired songstress who takes aim at the injustices she sees in the world.
But at 41, the U.S.-born and now Cornwall-dewlling Amos hs only recently been able to strike a peace between her two selves: woman and musician.
Of course, that struggle is as much about her relationship with religion as it is with her femininity.
Welcome to Tori Amos' world, where speaking to the artist is at times as confounding as it is enticing. Where you're metaphorically jerked down a hallway, only to be thrown through a doorway you were neither prepared for nor understand.
It's this sense of surprise that fans seem to love about her music.
Amos was born in North Carolina, but was raised the daughter of a Methodist minister in Maryland.
She spent her younger years playing piano in the church choir.
But it was this very Christian upbringing which later lead to a quandry within Amos.
"You could choose either the Mary Magdelene archetype or the mother Mary archetype," Amos says.
"The Mother Mary was stripped of her sexuality and the Mary Magdelene was stripped of her spirituality."
"I spent time trying to marry the Marys within my being and once I was able to integrate the mistress and the wife, boy, wasn't husband lucky."
That experience formed the basis of Marys of the Sea, from her latest album, The Beekeeper.
The new recording is supremely ambitious, with its central theme of a beekeeper who helps Amos negotiate six gardens. Yes, but what does that mean, exactly? "To get to the honey, you have to be willing to get the sting," Amos says, in typically opaque fashion.
"Not everybody is willing to be stung to get the honey, so they decide to have sugar instead. If you're willing to get the sting, then maybe you're willing to be drawn to my hive."
Australian audiences have tuned in to Amos' quirky piano-driven pop since her 1994 hit Cornflake Girl.
Her latest album sees her back in Australia for the first time in 12 year as part of her Original Sinsuality tour.
Amos may have married and had a child since the last time she was here, but music remains her first language. It's what she understands best. At times, she says, it's only when she takes a seat at her piano that she can make sense of how she feels.
"I conspire all kinds of rubbish, as we all tend to, and we all take our time - it might be driving a car or walking along the coast with our dog - to sort our thoughts out," she says.
"For me, it's through the music."
Curiously, while people tell her she shares so much of herself through her songs, Amos believes she's always fairly careful not to give too much away.
"Even husband says 'I don't really want to know what is going on in your mind, wife', and I think that's how we stay married," she says.
Blissful ignorance, then?
"Clever man," she replies.
Amos and her family live in a 300 year old farmhouse just outside the township of Bude in Cornwall, where, she says, the people have a "really good view on life".
Adopting a new country is one thing. But Amos draws the line at Premier league soccer teams.
Her husband is a keen Arsenal supporter and Amos was miffed to find out he was teaching their daughter to say the team's name before she could say "mummy".
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