I’ve wanted to like Tori Amos a lot longer than I’ve ever liked Tori Amos. I’m not sure I could even bring myself to listen to any of her albums by choice these days – and yet I feel (still) that the first three albums were brilliant, crucial, essential. Yes, the sub-Kate Bush charge still holds, something Amos has been at pains to distance herself from. But channelling Kate Bush and almost getting there (while updating it with/for 90s angst) was a good (enough) move for/by Tori. Those first three albums deserve to be in any serious music collection I reckon.
But I say that having not listened to them for years. That might be the reason I’m still sure I like them.
I’ve tried though – with other records by Amos. I’ve listened to everything she’s released – and it just all ends up being wet and thin and not quite what she was. Once (or is it that thrice?)
Here she does the re-record-with-an-orchestra trick/shtick but it really works for her. Amos has been more fascinated with her catalogue than many of her fans, offering numerous reworkings via different live performances and commissioned remixes as well as re-recordings.
Here she picks a run of “hits” and stretches out past the first three albums (in places) to cherry pick and it’s lush and often beautiful thanks to the work of The Metropole Orkest (conducted by Jules Buckley). This serious ensemble – practitioners of serious music – has been touring with Amos. And though you could write this off as the obvious cynical/lazy cash-in, the safe-and-boring “I’ll do my hits with an orchestra in support” ruse…I just don’t hear that here. I hear passion and depth and boldness. And I hear great songs. Songs that always stood out like Winter, Silent All These Years, Flying Dutchman and Yes, Anastasia – and I hear a voice that has lost nothing in terms of strength and charm.
Sometimes, just sometimes, Tori Amos has been remarkable. And this album has made me want to go back and hear those first three records again. And to (maybe) give other bits and pieces across her 20 year career a second chance.
But more importantly I have a fourth Tori Amos album to recommend; it’s not a classic – it does not need to be for everyone (nor is it trying) but she’s released a good record. Something she hasn’t done in years. Sometimes good is good enough. And that’s what it feels like with Gold Dust.