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Tori Amos
Unrepentant Geraldines
Mercury Classics

I somehow lost track of Tori some years ago. Scarlet's Walk from 2002 was the last of her albums I bought. I don't really know why. Her albums have always been rewarding to listen to. Maybe the reason was that they demanded more time than I was willing to invest and I never got to know some of the songs as well as they deserved? Anyhow, in the meantime she's been involved in concept albums and a kind of Christmas album, a song cycle album inspired by classical music and one with symphonic reworkings of her own songs. Unrepentant Geraldines is a return to an album of quite short and mainly quiet songs that don't neccessarily fit together as an entity. They are dominated by Tori's Bösendorfer piano, mainly sparsely arranged. Well, there are some guitars here, played by Mac Aladdin. Even drums in between, along with other discreet instrumentation played by Tori or her husband Mark Hawley. Mark also co-mixed the album, whereas the voice of their daughter Tash guests on "Promise". The album was recorded at the family studio in Cornwall, England, and produced by Tori.

Most of the songs might be labelled melancholic ballads, but the lyrics don't fit into that cosy category. In "Wild Way", Tori sings 'I hate you, I hate you, I do' as calm and ingratiating as can be... The title track deals with Christianity. Mrs. Amos makes it quite clear:

'I'm gonna free myself from your opinion
I'm gonna heal myself from your religion
I'm gonna free myself from your aggression
I'm gonna heal myself from your religion'

As one who feels more and more strongly that most religions are used by reactionary old men to maintain their power to opress common people, and women in particular, Tori and her fellow unrepentant Geraldines certainly receive my vote! Tori is also concerned with "16 Shades Of Blue". This song seem to deal with a stormy relationship with time passing by. No greyishness here, but absorbing black clocks and the female character arming herself with Cezannes's 16 shades of blue! Tori seems concerned that she turned 50 years not too long ago.

As always Tori's voice occasionally resembles Kate Bush's. If you think Kate's productivity (nine studio albums in about 36 years) ought to be closer to Tori's (14 studio albums in about 22 years) and you miss some new non-theatrical songs by Kate, well, look no further. "Weatherman" is as close as you get. "Selkie" also has some Bush traces. Otherwise Tori stands firmly on her own, as always.

My only minor objection is the quantity. The album includes 14 songs in about an hour. The number of quiet piano ballads, sort of, can be a bit too much at a time. The songs that separate from this formula are highly welcomed. Especially the merrier "Giant's Rolling Pin", with funny organ, and parts of "Rose Dover" stand out in this respect. The somewhat folk-tinged "Trouble's Lament" with drums and quite a lot of guitars, the aforementioned duet "Promise" and the rock'ier parts of the title track also represent something different and add to the variety. Anyhow, for me the album was a pleasant return to the sensual musical world of Tori Amos. I certainly ought to catch up with what she's been involved in during the last 10 years or so! The album is available as a standard CD, a double LP, a delux edition CD with a bonus track and a DVD. The iTunes and Amazon digital editions also include a different bonus track each. Sometimes it's hard for the completists...

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