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Asbury Park Press (US)
New Jersey
August 22, 2003

Tori Amos takes her listeners on a personal journey with 'Scarlet's Walk'

Photo caption: The passionate pianist/songwriter Tori Amos will celebrate her 40th birthday with an appearance at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel tonight.

By Ed Condran

It was evident after the release of Tori Amos' third album, 1996's "Boys for Pele", that the quirky flame-haired recording artist was shifting gears. It was the start of a 10-year period in which Amos experimented with abstract arrangements, double albums and obscure covers.

Some of Amos' rabid fan base abandoned the challenging vocalist-pianist, longing for the classic song structure she delivered on her first two albums, 1992's "Little Earthquakes" and 1994's "Under the Pink." Well, Amos's latest album, "Scarlet's Walk" feels like a follow-up to "Pink." The disc is a warm melodic work that follows a woman's personal journey while traveling throughout America. "Scarlet's Walk" comes off like a sonic novel, as Scarlet floats from city to city meeting new lovers and dealing with a variety of experiences.

"Scarlet sometimes has everything to do with me and sometimes she has nothing to do with me," Amos said while calling from Boca Raton, Fla. "She's just an interesting character. A character who grabbed me not long after I had my daughter (three years ago)."

The songs that are the most vivid and fantastic also possess the best melodies. The catchy "Amber Waves," which kicks off the album, was inspired by one of the characters of the bleak but brilliant film "Boogie Nights," as well as an actual porn star whom Amos met. "I'm exploring the world people think they know about but that's usually far from the truth," Amos said.

"Sweet Sangria" finds Scarlet in Austin, Texas, where the curious protagonist briefly falls for a Latin revolutionary. "She can't do his battle," Amos said. "She believes in his cause but can't load the gun. She doesn't believe in death of innocents, which mirrors how I feel about what may happen (in Iraq)".

In "I can't see New York," the most eerie and poignant track on the disc, Scarlet witnesses a plane crash in mid-air. Many scribes and fans believe the song was written after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 but in fact, Amos penned the number a few months prior to that tragic day.

"That song flashed in my mind as soon as disaster struck New York on Sept. 11," Amos said. "I was in New York that day. I was walking down Fifth Avenue and I could see and smell what was happening downtown. I couldn't shake my song from my head."

Count on Amos to air out plenty of tracks from "Scarlet's Walk," as well as the rest of her rich canon when she performs tonight - her 40th birthday - at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel.

"I don't really have a choice do I?" Amos said with a laugh. "You want to please those who come out to see you. I do the best I can with the time allotted."

It wouldn't be surprising to hear quite a bit of the sensual, passionate, and spiritual "Under the Pink" and the provocative, intimate and intense "Little Earthquakes" tossed into Amos' set.

"There is definitely a thread that links those albums to 'Scarlet's Walk,'" Amos said. "I can't deny the connection."

The Lottapianos tour
With Ben Folds
7 PM today
PNC Bank Arts Center
Garden State Parkway Exit 116
$45 and $25 (732) 335-0400

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