Friday, May 4, 2007

American Doll Posse - an overview

For me, Tori Amos could do an album where she sings from a phonebook and I would like it - it’s just like that. I think she’s great and I pretty much love everything she does. She strikes a chord. I think the perception of her is that she is mad and annoying and depressing - and you know, I think I can identify with that lol. Look underneath the surface and it’s all very tongue-in-cheek but with a very serious intention. There is a huge amount of fun in Tori’s music, but with a real, human edge.
But anyway, that’s not to say that I don’t recognise when she’s having a weaker moment, though. After Scarlet’s Walk, her music started to get a bit too samey, culminating in The Beekeeper album, which just seemed really middle-of-the-road. Thank god then for American Doll Posse, which sees Tori really raise her game once more.
I was a bit worried about this album. Another long album, another concept album (why can’t she just do 12 simply great, straight-forward songs?) - and maybe worse than that - it’s kind of a concept she’s sort of done before - dressing up as different characters for Strange Little Girls. Thankfully, ADP gives a fresh spin on the characters idea and I adore the fact that each Doll has its own personality and sings different songs - although I do wish there had been a song which featured all of the dolls (admittedly that would have been hard to recreate live, I guess!).
I’ve written individual reviews of the songs elsewhere. Suffice to say, that once again Tori has delivered a stunning album that works on so many levels and has a song for just about any mood. It also flows really well. I think I will find myself listening to this album quite a lot, whereas I found it hard to find time to sit and listen to the equally long Beekeeper.
A lot of the reviews are saying this album is her best since her first album, and some of the songs would have fit well on there. Well I don’t know about that - I think Tori has evolved nicely over the years. What I do like about ADP is that some of the more experimental piano songs (Smokey Joe and Dragon) hearken back to some of her early experimental b-sides - and that is definitely a good thing!
One thing that puzzles me about Tori though - is her apparent wish to be so commercial. The music biz has changed so much over the past few years - singles just don’t seem to matter any more. While other artists - like Regina Spektor and Anthony and the Johnstons - have a blast doing what they do best, stripping it all back to basics, I often wish Tori would do this - do an album of beautiful piano ballads.
Oh, and while I’m talking about being puzzled - I’m really puzzled about some of the promotional elements of this album’s release. Putting the WHOLE album on myspace? Wow. I don’t agree with giving the whole thing away like that. And then there are extra songs which you get if you pre-order with different stores - argh! Stop it, Tori!


JamieB said...

Maybe she just wanted to know if she could write a commercial album -- as a kind of intellectual exercise? The same with myspace, retailer-specific content etc. -- maybe she just wants to play around with the latest promo tools to see what's possible, like trying out all the buttons on your new hi-fi?

Whatever, and whyever, it does seem to have worked -- her metacritic score is 76/100 across 11 reviews.

Mart said...

what is a metacritic review, jamie?
she can totally do commercial - but to be honest i'd rather she was just self-indulgent and stuck to piano compositions, rather than all this pop stuff. not that i mind all the pop stuff.