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Sunday Mail (Australia)
Adelaide, Australia, newspaper
September 20, 2009

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Tori's world

by Paul Nassari

The mind of Tori Amos never stops. She is on her way to Australia again on her tour for 2009's Abnormally Addicted To Sin; the singer-pianist's exploration of the many faces of power: religious, financial, sexual and political, as experienced by 17 characters.

The record was partly inspired from the visuals director Christian Lamb created to accompany her American Doll Posse tour DVD.

"I asked Christian to go out and capture as much stuff as he could beyond just the live footage. What he came back with were montages which were so creative and amazing but they didn't fit the music they were supposed to go with. They suggested something new entirely, which somehow allowed me to pursue the questions I've had about belief, sex and sin."

As a result she went to work on richly layered pieces of music about the points of view of 17 women which would each have its own film.

"I thought, if we can just put these women in certain settings we will reach something special. I love silent movies and I love the sense of smell. Sometimes when I'm walking and I catch a scent and a whole new dimension opens up for me. Those are the things we drew on for these films."

It is important to Amos that film speaks to the subconscious. In order to do that she had to throw the rulebook out the window.

"We tried to make sure we weren't doing a literal read of the songs, but rather try to invade the senses and let it end there."

In part, this ambitious project works because Amos balances her need for sonic purity with belief in the magic of film. The end result is polar opposite to typical music videos.

"I respect the people who don't watch music videos at all, those people who safeguard their imaginations against predetermined visuals because the audio must always live on its own. But there is a new generation who need to watch as well as listen and they're just as valid. I want to give people something to watch which perhaps gives more than it takes away."

Naturally, if you really want to enjoy the Amos vibe, you have to discard your expectations. Half of what she says is channelled direct from Tori world - yet when you hear it from her lips, she makes perfect sense.

The Amos dynamo continues to whirl. Abnormally Addicted to Sin is barely on the shelves and she is already prepping a new set of recordings to coincide with the tour.

"You're in for a treat. My Solstice record will be out by the time I hit Australia and I'm really excited about it. I haven't really talked about this with anybody else yet. It's the sin and the ancient mid-Winter spiritual beliefs along with the Christian beliefs - and oh boy, is that going to be a lot of fun at the piano in high heels!"

The subject of God, belief and religion is a sticky one for Tori.

"I don't consider myself Christian any more. I consider myself a citizen of Earth. I don't think Christ would consider himself Christian either - not the way conservative organised religion presents it because they've edited most of his message out. That's a problem that goes way back to the way the New Testament was put together."

Sin is the key phrase in her album's title but she is defiantly opposed to the definition set down by organised religion.

"Patriarchal religious authority's definition of sin divides people from each other and themselves. Theirs was the greatest sin... one without love or unity or tolerance. Women in particular have had a difficult time. Religious authority has attempted to divide our sexual self from our spiritual self."

Questions over the nature of power and attraction became key ingredients in the writing of this album.

"I asked a bunch of women what they thought a powerful man is. The answers were disappointing sometimes but I had to stay really neutral. What a lot of them told me was they found a powerful man to be a man who had power over them. I was once drawn to that kind of power too."

So what happens when men have their power taken away? Tori's answer is both frightening and oddly compassionate.

"Domestic violence in the States is up since the economic crisis hit. More men than women are being laid off so think about the emasculation those men have to experience when their power to be a breadwinner is removed. A door opens up to resentment and the violence emerges as a way for them to say, 'you may have the job but I'll show you who's got the power behind closed doors.'

"My song Ophelia is about a young woman who keeps choosing the same sorts of abusive relationships. The question it asks is whether she will reach 45 and still be choosing the same kinds of people to enable her to live the eternal victim's life until she dies."

Tori Amos plays Thebarton Theatre as part of the Sinful Attraction tour on Thursday, November 19.

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