Release Date: Oct 2, 2012
Record label: DG Deutsche Grammophon
All the way back to Y Kan’t Tori Read, Tori Amos has always been the feral Kate Bush—slightly more muscular, possibly more grounded on terra firma, but absolutely given to an ethereal sense of melody, a fraught tension that pushes the limits juxtaposed by a celestial voice that quivers in ways mere mortals could never affect. For Gold Dust, a career-spanning redux of 14 songs, the dervish diva of lush song structure enlists Netherlands’ 52-member Metropole Orchestra, a progressive big band/symphony amalgam that’s also worked with Chaka Khan, Andrea Bocelli, Ella Fitzgerald, Brian Eno, Steve Vai and Sarah Vaughan. Re-sculpting many of her best loved songs, the complexity of her musicality emerges from the intensity of the originals—as dynamics are truly sculpted and the songs take on new and often more ominous colors.
Performing since age 13, singer-songwriter-pianist Tori Amos’ prolific recording career bleeds into four decades and includes 13 studio albums, 33 official bootlegs, 40 singles, 65 B-sides, 27 music videos, and a five-disc box set. All of which have served to carve out her own unique musical niche as one of music’s most original and influential sonic architects. On her latest endeavor Gold Dust, Amos again returns to the classical music realm with her follow-up to 2011’s song cycle, Night of Hunters.
The release of Gold Dust was inevitable, and was recorded to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of Little Earthquakes, the album that established Tori Amos as one of the premier -- if not the premier -- singer/songwriters of her generation. Here she revisits songs from her catalog backed by the famed Metropole Orchestra conducted by Jules Buckley. Amos recorded live with the orchestra in the Netherlands, making it a greatest-hits comp with a twist.
Considering the extent to which her career has been defined by her self-indulgence, it’s hardly a surprise that Tori Amos would finally fulfill her oft-repeated dream of recording an album with a full orchestra. So, on the heels of Night of Hunters, her obtuse foray into classical music, comes Gold Dust, on which Amos is backed by conductor Jules Buckley of the Metropole Orchestra on an eclectic set of songs pulled from her rich back catalogue. There’s an intimacy to the album that fits well with the set’s most confessional material, but it doesn’t really work as a standalone project.
If you’re a Tori Amos fan, or you were a Tori Amos fan, you may be familiar with the current struggle between fans who prefer Amos’s earlier body of work versus those who favour her more recent body of work. Both sides of the debate will agree that in and around the time of Scarlet’s Walk there was a clear dissection, where most loyal fans who stuck with her from the beginning have found it difficult to swallow the sometimes trite and schmaltzy tendencies of her later work, versus those who are recently discovering her who believe that new is always better and her musical veracity is growing with age. Regardless, the landscape of being a Tori Amos fan is a tumultuous one.
Plusher, more refined versions of Amos’ more autobiographical tracks. Nick Levine 2012 There's a sense to this album of coming full circle. As a child, Tori Amos won a scholarship to the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, one of America's top classical music schools. But she lost her place aged 11, the story goes, because she hated reading sheet music and got hooked on pop.