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The Home News & Tribune (US)
New Jersey newspaper
Friday, September 27, 1996

Passionate singer/songwriter/performer is the volcanic goddess of pop...

by Jennifer Salvato

In the art of songwriting and performing, crimson-haired songstress Tori Amos isn't afraid to take bold strokes. In concert, Amos accompanies her powerful, soprano voice with a piano or harpsichord to create complete musical mosaics. Amos will bring her bewitching artistry to the State Theatre in New Brunswick, on Wednesday for a performance that is sure to fuse her musical genius with her unabashed, passionate - and often ethereal - personality. During a phone interview while on the West Coast leg of her tour, Amos offered some insight about her songwriting process.

"Its all part of going down the rabbit hole. Once you go down the rabbit hole you find many things down there," she said. "Each song is its own journey. One thing doesn't come first all the time. There's never a functional way of writing for me. Sometimes I'm just on hold waiting for someone to pick up the phone and a song comes."

Well, it's pretty clear that Amos wasn't listening to some light FM station while she was on hold. The songs on her third and lastest album, "Boys for Pele", certainly aren't for the non-thinker. On one level, ths songs are about Amos' relationships with men. But many, like "Muhammad My Friend," take a more universal look at the struggle between male and female power throughout history. Not surprisingly, the theme of "female empowerment" was running through Amos' personal life at the time she was doing the writing.

The album, which is Amos' first to be self-produced, is named for Pele, the Hawaiian goddess whom Amos credits with helping her to find her own "fire". "Men in my life, I felt, had access to this fire that I didn't have," she said. Fire, as Amos explained it, is symbolic of the power that comes from inside each of us. The kind of power that gives one freedom to create and live without needing the affirmation of an audience or anyone else around you, she said. While vacationing in Hawaii, after separating from her soul mate Eric Rosse, Amos says she felt the presence of Pele permeating the islands.

"It started to change my whole outlook on the idea of being connected to a kinetic force that isn't generated by anybody else, anything outside of yourself," she said.

Amos takes people to new places with her music and some fans are often struck by Amos' ability to turn pain into a beautiful compostition. She has written songs about rape, isolation and self-awakening.

"If you're living a full life, pain is one of the colors on the palette... It's one of the things that makes you remember you can feel. One of the things. Humor's another thing. They all work together. When you negate any of these emotions then you're not working with a very complex palette, you're just working with a couple of colors."

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