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Q (UK)
March 2005

Tori Amos - Quirk In Progress

Morning: "I get up at 6:30 to get my daughter Tash ready for school. It's always mayhem, so she usually watches DVDs while I'm running around. She's obsessed with Harry Potter although I caught her watching Bridget Jones's Diary from her dad's collection the other day, which is a bit naughty for a four year old."

Noon: "I don't listen to music when I'm working on an album so I don't accidentally end up stealing the ideas. At the moment I'm reading Prospect, the political essay magazine. I'm going to be doing a lot of interviews in America, so I need to bone up on Europe's view of America. Plus I commute from my home in Cornwall to New York a lot and I need to know if New York is still there."

Night: "We get a lot of movies from Amazon. We just watched The 51st State with Samuel L. Jackson. I thought it was cute, but my husband just ended up falling asleep. But if Arsenal are playing, we have to watch Match Of The Day. I never realised what it would mean to marry an English football fan, but I do now..."

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Kooky Monster : Buckle Up For Another Tuneful Flight Of Fancy

by Nick Duerden

Tori Amos : The Beekeeper Sony BMG
(***) 3 STARS

Inspired, naturally enough, by the realisation "that she has an organ" (a typically nonsensical Amos quote), The Beekeeper is perhaps Tori Amos's most florid album to date. The North Carolinian who first filled Kate Bush's shoes with her 1992 debut, Little Earthquakes, has since gone on to follow her own increasingly wayward path, covering Nirvana anthems and suckling piglets along the way, and now, aged 41, she sounds as ripe as a vineyard at harvest, her music verging on the succulent.

At 19 tracks long, it outstays its welcome by a good half hour, and for every riveting set piece (Barons of Suburbia's climax sounds like it was sung in church and directed at the Devil) there are meandering nonentities such as the title track, the seven minutes of which pass with interminable inactivity. But Amos remains thrillingly individual, and each song comes sung, appropriately enough for someone whose interview tecnique suggests schizophrenia, by a different persona with conflicting temperaments. And so we get the easy-listening sway of Ireland ("Driving in my Saab on the way to Ireland", she croons while backing singers sha-la-la behind her) alongside the gospel tones of Witness, while on Hoochie Woman she is lust, purring "bring home the bacon" the same way phone sex operators intone the word "suspenders."

Mercifully her Bushisms (Kate, not George) are kept mostly in check, which is wise because she is best when understated. Ribbons Undone is the album's quietest track. It is also the loveliest.

Subtlety rarely looms large in the work of Tori Amos and here she flaunts the grandeur of a 19th century novel with the confusing lyrical belatings of a spiritual kook, but her efforts ultimately pay off. She is bizarre, certainly, but she can also be rather beguiling.

Rip It: Ribbons Undone

Further Listening:
Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love - EMI, 1985, ****
Kristin Hersch - Hips & Makers - 4AD, 1994, ***

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