Tori Amos Tori AmosNight Of Hunters
Tori Amos’ last few releases left her fans rather unimpressed, maybe because of the more care-free tone and accessibility, or the change in expressive and instrumental mechanisms on them. They didn't fit the idea of the melancholic muse, tormented and dark like on her early recordings. In a way, it was understandable: over the years, the singer and pianist made quite a few changes - not always fortunate - and she had a tough time recovering the magic inspiration of “Little Earthquakes” and “Under The Pink”, still considered her best work by many of her fans.
From that perspective it's understandable and praiseworthy that the singer is trying to pick up that sound of her early works on this, her debut on Deutsche Grammophon. She uses an austere and meticulous formula based on the combination of the piano - essential in her sound but less important on her recent albums (here, however, back as the centrepiece) - and a series of orchestral arrangements, in harmony with the line of a label of this status and importance in the world of classical music and sophisticated song-writing. To top it off, this regressive manoeuvre takes on the construction of a work based on unique and very personal variations of classical compositions, known and recognisable to everyone.
They're not so much cover versions or reinterpretations but rather starting points, sources of inspiration, in order to profile her own material. The experiment, which sounds more like an academic project than as a wild adventure, doesn't works all the time - but when it does, it takes us back to those early songs on which Amos talked privately with her piano and used some precious arrangements for her songs. The artist plays around with Satie, Bach, Chopin and Schubert scores in an elegant, minimal context, contained and subtle, with much more emotional power and magnetism than her three last albums put together. In fact, it's not hard to make comparisons between some of the pieces on this album and some of her old ones: “Carry” is very reminiscent of “Gold Dust”, for example, in a magnificent demonstration of our heroine's intentions.
“Night Of Hunters” could be better, why deny it? At some points, the record seems a bit projected, cold and measured - and Tori Amos sounds more timid, restricted and conservative than we're used to. She shows too much respect for the format, for the treatment of the songs and for the context from which the concept of the project is born. She even lets her eleven-year old daughter steal some of her thunder, singing on a few songs to great and promising result. But even so, with all of its flaws and uncertainties, the album possesses part of that sombre and intricate charm of her early works, far from the unfocussed super productions and senseless try-outs of recent years. It shows us the best side of a woman who was once one of the muses of the nineties. She may not have made a grand entrance, but she’s returned.
Mario G. Sinde