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The Daily Telegraph (Australia)
Sydney, Australia, newspaper
October 23, 2009

Tori Amos still battling sin and the church

By Noel Mengel

FEMALE empowerment, religion, sin, sexuality, spirituality, obsession no one ever accused Tori Amos of shirking the big issues.

On her 2007 album American Doll Posse she explored these matters through five distinct female personalities, all of whom could be traced back to feminine gods of the Greek and Roman traditions. They all had their own look and even their own blog.

Her latest album is easier to explore. It doesn't have a strict concept although its title, Abnormally Attracted To Sin, shows Amos is still tossing over the questions that have always driven her.

"Those issues have been around for thousands of years," says Amos, at home in Cornwall as she prepares for an Australian tour next month.

"The Catholic Church hasn't told women they can have birth control.

"The Muslim world hasn't turned around and said, 'Hey girls, go find your independence'. If we're honest there is a big old war still happening."

Given the serious tone of much of her writing, it should be pointed out that Amos likes a laugh as much as the next girl. The title for Abnormally Attracted To Sin is actually a line borrowed from the stage musical Guys And Dolls.

But given that Amos has as many problems with the Christian church as she does with Islamic extremists and that she's the daughter of a Methodist preacher, those family gatherings for Christmas dinner must be interesting.

"Because I am a minister's daughter I was armed with the liturgy and the behind-the-scenes look," Amos says. "I could have been brought up in a family where I was seduced by it. There are people in my family who are very religious and there are others who are quite liberal like me, more pragmatic about the whole thing."

Amos also has a keen interest in the spirituality and natural healing remedies of native Americans.

"My sister is a doctor and we are very close. She attends church a lot more than I do and she's very open to the native American healing path. I think the native American spirituality system has been a real centring point for me, and that community has embraced me.

"That's given me another viewpoint on Christianity too, about coming to America to save all the savages and stealing all their land."

Amos has always written with honesty about what it is to be a woman. One of the songs that first attracted her such a loyal following was Me And A Gun, which was then and now one of the few songs written about sexual assault by an author who had suffered the assault.

She knows that her songs do appeal to people who carry some deep scars.

Amos is 46, married to British recording engineer Mark Hawley and with a nine-year-old daughter, Tash. How has motherhood changed her?

"Hopefully it gave me a much better sense of humour," she says, laughing.

"I would say that when Tash came it was a perfect time. I was 37, I'd had a few miscarriages, I had made many records, had experienced that lifestyle."

Amos says she has never been on better terms with her father, who is now 81, despite the fact he has a difficult time with some of her songs.

Dad will approve of her next release, Midwinter Graces, a seasonal album featuring some of the songs she played in her father's church during her childhood Christmas celebrations.

"We have both agreed to disagree," said Amos. "We realise that if people don't become more tolerant then we are going to have World War III very soon."


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