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Miami Herald (US)
Wednesday, August 10, 2005

[A longer version of this article appeared in the Palm Beach Post on August 7, 2005.]

Tori Amos' lyrical, emotional appeal

By Leslie Gray Streeter
Cox News Service

It makes perfect sense that Tori Amos, Grammy-nominated singer with the expansive mane of red hair and rich tradition of cryptic lyrics invoking folklore and all things mystical, would live in Cornwall, England, with its centuries-old stone cottages, dark moors and craggy coastlines. It seems less obvious that Amos -- who is appearing tonight in West Palm Beach -- would also feel at home in the sweaty, oppressive, "Is it hot enough for ya?" South Florida sun -- specifically the home near Stuart where she and her family live part of the year.

"I think you're drawn to what you know," says Amos, calling from Martin County. "I was born in 100-degree weather. Cornwall is great. . . . But I'm a lizard lady. Jim Morrison doesn't have a copyright on that. He was the Lizard King. But I'm a Lizard Lady -- with a high heel." Much about Tori Amos seems to be at once airily mysterious and insistently matter-of-fact -- the effortless yet furiously complicated way she plays two pianos simultaneously, how her lyrics evoke lofty spirits and basic human brutality, how she writes seemingly confessional musings even as she intensely maintains her privacy.

Even with her contradiction of lovely and angry, of sweet and tart, it's hard to imagine Amos, 41, spiritually guided muse and invoker of ancient wonders, sitting on a beach or shopping at the mall. But she loves it here.

"I feel very close to nature (in Florida) . . . Our house is not in a built-up area. We're on the water, and sometimes I just feel the sun bakes you like a little muffin -- and sometimes we as gals need to heal our muffins. It's a different kind of relationship you have with the land. It's like going out in the desert when there's no one there, and having a spiritual experience."

Amos' music has been decidedly spiritual for her devoted fans since 1992's Little Earthquakes. Lyrically-based piano music was something of a shock amid the grunge dissonance and politically fierce rap on the era's charts, but Amos' album was no less insistent or angry, with a quiet woman's defiant awakening in "Silent All These Years" and the harrowing "Me and A Gun," written about her rape. (And in concert, she acknowledged the grunge aesthetic her own way, with a haunting version of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit.")

She was born in North Carolina and raised in Maryland. Her parents, Edison and Mary Ellen Amos, moved to Port St. Lucie in the 1990s, not far from the home she shares today with husband Mark Hawley, a sound engineer, and daughter Natashya, 4.

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