Tori Amos
From The Choirgirl Hotel


5.0
classic

Review

by Zac USER (6 Reviews)
February 19th, 2008 | 14 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A truely classic album that will remain as one of the best that you will hear.

To begin my reviews on an album of such a high calibre is difficult, but sitting reading that no-one had yet assessed the work quelled a passionate response to be used on arguably the best Tori Amos album released to date. The incorporation of synthesised melodies into her otherwise somewhat simplistic line up adds to the accessibility of the work and builds upon Amos’ development as an artist, making this album, perhaps the best of her career.
The album begins with the single ‘Spark’, one of Tori’s most personal. The song deals with her feelings of shame and disgust as she ‘couldn’t keep baby alive’, referring obviously to her first of two miscarriages between 1996 and 1999. The song, and the accompanying video clip, is possibly some of Amos’ most gut wrenching work to date. Listening to the strained phrases, somewhat mimicking her pain, does nothing except induce a state of reflection on life.

Moving through the album more melodic brilliance is achieved with the tracks ‘Cruel’ and its electronically enhanced effects on Amos’ vocals and ‘Black Dove (January)’ with its heavily pedalled keyboarded effect, ‘From The Choirgirl Hotel’ comes to an abrupt change when the heavily driven ‘Raspberry Swirl’ takes to the speakers. The song, speaking of Amos’ lesbian experiences, is perhaps the most radio accessible with its high energy piano rock filling the airways. The highly electronic sounds surrounding the otherwise simplistic accompaniment create a sound and façade of a complexity otherwise alien to music at this time.

Following the high energy of track four, is ‘Jackie’s Strength’ a piano ballad with the accompaniment and fulfilment of strings. Listening to the album’s shades of white and black, made example of with ‘Raspberry Swirl’ contrasting with ‘Jackie’s Strength’ allow the listener to hear how Atlantic Records wanted the album to come across. The original track listing sees ‘Jackie’s Strength’ following ‘Black Dove’. Although making the album somewhat more accessible to the public, one can’t help but wonder if the album had been perfect with the original track listing.

The epic ‘i i e e e’ with its Enya like echo floating around the introduction through to the chorus with lulled strings and powerful lyrics, ‘we’re screaming in cathedrals, why can’t I be beautiful?’ the track is plain and simply, appealing to the listener. With the introduction of an electrically charged bridge with guitar and distortion over the sound, the song never seems to lose flow, and is an obvious stand out on the album.

The final half of the album remains as strong as the first with tracks such as ‘Liquid Diamonds’ singing a song of pain which echoes throughout the body, to ‘She’s Your Cocaine’ which follows with it’s hard rock edge and vocals which really demonstrate Amos’ prowess as an artist, moving from amazing highs to sexually charged lows, its obvious that the artist has learnt a thing or two. It can be said, that in my opinion that ‘Northern Lad’ and ‘Pandora’s Aquarium’ are the weakest two songs on the album, but that’s with a hand tied behind the back and a dagger to the neck. The two tracks separating those two however, ‘Hotel’ and ‘Playboy Mommy’ are simply said, two more works of Amos brilliance.

To make something clear, Tori Amos is, and always will be, an idol of mine, so it can be said that there would be a bit of bias from my perspective when it comes to reviewing an album of hers, nevertheless, ‘From The Choirgirl Hotel’ is obviously one of her best works, and arguably the most accessible. Amos herself has said ‘this album is the most personal and my favourite of all my works’ and it is for good reason. Dare I say, it’s not perfect, but it is about as close as an album is going to come in my lifetime. Dare i say it, there are no similar albums. ZR



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user ratings (147)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Iai
Emeritus
February 19th 2008


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. I disagree that it's her best but I basically agree with most of what you say.

CushMG15
February 19th 2008


1803 Comments


I've been wondering for awhile about where to start with her music, and I think I'll start here. Great job on the review.

ninjuice
February 19th 2008


6760 Comments


Dude, AWESOME first review. I would just suggest putting the album title in italics, and perhaps putting the track names in bold.

Muikuli
June 27th 2008


187 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

What I REALLY want to ask is: Why is there no "To Venus And Back" in this site? I think it counts as an album and should be reviewed..

jackie2008
December 16th 2008


29 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is one of her best for sure, but I can't hold it higher than Little Earthquakes or Pele.

I actually liked Northern Lad a lot, but each reviewer (and tori admirer) will have a different perspective on it for sure.

This makes me want to revisit this album of hers. Great review.

Muikuli
January 16th 2009


187 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

^Agree 100%

natey
February 7th 2009


4170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like "Northern Lad" a lot myself.

pupucower
April 21st 2011


12 Comments


'Spark' is amazing- I can listen to it everyday on loop and not get tired of it. Tori is just such a versatile artiste. But her later albums are... Different.

scissorlocked
November 25th 2011


3511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album is very good

Spark is an excellent opener


Digging: Distance - Outer Limits

linkjerk
December 20th 2011


311 Comments


little earthquakes will always be the best

seedofnothing
December 25th 2011


3425 Comments


m/




Ire
April 20th 2012


41822 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great lbm

Ire
August 25th 2012


41822 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

too bad it's gay

hamid95
December 30th 2012


108 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Northern Lad has some great lyrics.



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