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Billboard (US)
April 4, 1998

Tori Amos isn't alone in her 'hotel'


NEW YORK (BPI) - Having completed three albums in which her bold piano playing took center stage, singer/songwriter Tori Amos decided it was time for a change. Her new Atlantic Records project, "from the choirgirl hotel" (due May 5), sports an ensemble sound that ranges from ballads with sparse accompaniment to full-blown productions that could easily rate as club hits.

"The piano's more integrated into the sound now," says Amos. "I wanted to cut live with a band, and the piano had to hold up as one of the players in the band. All the cuts were recorded live with a drummer, a programmer, and a bass player."

"From the choirgirl hotel" was recorded and mixed over several months in Cornwall, England. A 200-year-old barn on a three-acre property was converted into a state-of-the-art recording studio for the project, which was produced by Amos and engineered and mixed by longtime associates Mark Hawley and Marcel van Limbeek. Joining Amos on the record were drummer Matt Chamberlain (of Fiona Apple fame), programmer Andy Gray, bassists Justin Meldal-Johnsen and George Porter Jr., and guitarists Steve Caton and Stewart Boyle.

Amos views her first three full-length solo albums - "Little Earthquakes" (1992), "Under The Pink" (1994), and "Boys For Pele" (1996) - as a "trilogy" that established her as a piano-driven composer whose songs shone more for their stark beauty than for their arrangements. For "choirgirl," however, Amos wanted to move to new sonic territory.

"I'd taken the 'girl and the piano' thing as far as I could, and I really wanted to be a player with other players," says Amos. "It was very important for my growth as a musician to play with other musicians instead of having them play around me."

The ensemble approach is illustrated by the first single, "Spark," a slow,shuffling tune with a catchy, repetitive chorus that stands to break newground for Amos.

Amos will preview the release of "choirgirl" with a full-band club tour - dubbed Tori Amos Sneak Preview '98 'plugged' - that starts April 18 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and ends May 6 in Los Angeles, hitting other major markets like New York, Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

The album will also be set up by a media blitz that will include TV appearances on "Late Show With David Letterman" (April 10) and "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (May 12), as well as cover stories in Rolling Stone (May 5) and Musician (July). Album Network will broadcast a syndicated radio program based on Amos' April 30 show at Park West in Chicago.

A clip for "Spark" was shot March 21-24 in the U.K. by video director James Brown.

The Internet, which played a strong promotional role for "Boys For Pele," will again come into play. Amos will be the first artist to participate in a promotion by Tower Records and AT&T whereby customers who purchase albums at the chain's stores or World Wide Web site will be able to download, free of charge, bonus tracks exclusive to the promotion. In Amos' case, the non-album track "Merman" will be available to Tower customers April 7.

Additionally, tickets to the sneak preview shows will be available only through the Internet or radio station giveaways. As Amos puts it, the preview tour "will be for the kids that stand in line, not for the schmooze crowd."

Amos says she is particularly excited by the club tour, which will present her in a new light to fans who are accustomed to seeing her in more stripped-down settings. "I'm ready to bring all the records together live and play some of the old music too, now live, in this way," says Amos.

Following the club engagements, Amos will begin a two-year world tour in the U.K. that will hit various points in Europe throughout the spring. Then she will play the U.S. during the summer shed season.

In Europe - where Amos is signed to EastWest - "Spark" will be released April 20 in various territories, including the U.K., and the album will be released May 4, in keeping with the continent's Monday release cycle.

In the U.K., "Spark" comes 15 months after Amos' first No. 1 single, the Armand Van Helden remix of "Professional Widow (It's Got To Be Big)," which also charted for 14 weeks on Music & Media's Eurochart Top 100 and established Amos as a credible dance music artist. Prior to the Van Helden remix, she scored a top 20 U.K. hit in August 1996 with the double-sided single "Hey Jupiter"/"Professional Widow."

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