Review Summary: Tori stands and delivers on her 10th outing with a superbly put together anthology of songs.
When a queen enters the quarters, you stand and pay attention. Some of you may say it is a hard task when an album enters its 73rd minute, but upon aural examination, the work of the divine Ms Tori Amos is as strong as ever. One may even say she is showing signs of a return to form, reminiscent of her From The Choirgirl Hotel, To Venus & Back and Scarlet’s Walk days. Abnormally Attracted To Sin is an anthology in its most complete form. Amos has delivered a serving of emotionally charged ballads and up-tempos whilst still experimenting with her multi genre pushing musical style. She’s back in an epic way.
From the minute the first drum stroke is playing in the opening track Give, you know you’re in for something special. The emotion evoked from track one is evident in her haunting vocal and low octave piano melody. The chorus however demonstrates Amos’ ability to still deliver a powerful vocal at the height of her range. It is, however, in fact the lyrics that make this song so attractive. Amos’ appears to be touching on issues such as S&M whilst maintaining the sexually charged delivery Amos fans are used to.
For those who long for the Tori of old, track two may appeal to your ears a little more. Welcome To England is a fine piece of music to say the least. Long time collaborators Chamberlain and Evans know their craft when it comes to accompanying Amos. As a fan or a first time listener, it is evident that Amos can transport anyone to another place, reminiscent of Taxi Ride or one might even say the whole Scarlet’s Walk album, Welcome To England is another tick on the reviewers form.
I have to admit, upon first listen, I was hooked on track three, Strong Black Vine. ‘Shut your mouth, I’m spinnin’ it tight down south’. The open line in conjunction with Amos’ experiment with strings on the synth and the heavy drum beat in the background make for an instant classic. It’s here in this piece that Amos sounds her strongest. No cracks in the vocal, just a complete and wholesome sound whilst maintaining the energy and presence cult follows have all come to love.
Tracks four through eight continue to see Amos’ move from Sony to have been the right move. Her lyrics have a stronger presence than ever and her musical arrangements are a tribute to precision production. Flavour is a ballad where Amos delivers her world to your mind, whilst Not Dying Today comes from a rather person place in Amos’ existence. She still is giving her listeners an inside glance into her life. Maybe California and Curtain Call give the listener flashbacks to a time where Little Earthquakes ruled the newly crowned CD player and Fire To Your Plain in all honesty gives me an Under The Pink b-side feel, much like Sugar for those who have had the joy of access to the piece.
Now unfortunately it’s at track nine that the ride gets a little bit bumpy. Not to say you’ll lose interest, its just that Police Yourself doesn’t have that truly typical Tori Amos sound. The same goes for That Guy. If I had to compare them to something, I believe if you’ve heard the Kate Bush Hounds Of Love album, you’d agree these two would make a nice addition to the track listing. The songs, still entirely listenable, and to some extent, enjoyable, just would have been better as b-sides.
Cometh track eleven, the title, Abnormally Attracted To Sin. It’s echoed vocals and classily put together instrumentation allow Amos to claw back at some of the albums appeal. The piece is still an amazing tribute to the album’s concept of humanities attraction to that this is sinful. Her lyrics are powerful and the production of the track is finely crafted. It’s just a shame that the next track, 500 Miles, was placed in the entirely wrong spot. I think, replace Police Yourself with 500 Miles and we’d have some flow allowing the album to better communicate it’s concept, but for the moment, it’s all a little too confusing.
Oh Mary Jane where have you been for 15 minutes"! Think dark cabaret reflective of the Dresden Dolls earlier work, but then insert the lyrical genius of Amos and add a touch of her deity like status in piano performance and we have ourselves a masterpiece. Follow it with Starling, a reflection of To Venus & Back Amos, and we’re back in Toriland, where song writing ability and performance prowess are celebrated. These two tracks, for me, are definite standouts.
The final three tracks, Fast Horse, Ophelia and Lady In Blue are fine closers to an album which needed a perfect closing act. Although not some of Amos’ best work, she’s still proving she’s a force to be reckoned with. All three tracks show Amos’ supreme vocal ability and song writing expertise are still are powerful and overshadow much of the music gracing the scene today.
What has Tori done with her 10th offering, Abnormally Attracted To Sin" She’s shown us that she knows how to deliver an alluring album of epic proportions whilst maintaining her legendary song writing ability. Of course, the album isn’t perfect and has no chance of matching her masterpiece (see From The Choirgirl Hotel) but she gives it a pretty good shot. The album has definite stand outs and a couple that could have been b-sides left for her next collection. The bottom line, however, is that Tori Amos is still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to delivering an album that wont grow tiresome in any foreseeable time frame. A masterpiece" Not quite, but a damn fine piece of art.