Tori Amos Gold Dust – Album Review

Tori Amos has never gone with the grain. Her views and musical daring have made her one of the world’s leading female artists. She has never been contrived, nor done anything to gain public interest. Her role lies in making beautiful music, whether that be through eight minute long instrumental masterpieces or three minute covers (see ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit). Her enterprising talent has given her the reputation she holds today.

When I think of artists re-working their songs, I think of Michael Ball in a TV advert sat on a bar stool making sexy eyes at the camera. Tori Amos is an artistic nymph, and far too classy for that. So much anticipation surrounds re-workings; why build on perfection? Gold Dust completely recasts 14 of Amos’s songs from her 20 years of being one of the world’s best known, and most critiqued, voices. The album is a reincarnation of Amos herself, and collaboration with the Metropole Orchestra.

The album’s symphonic revivals open with ‘Flavor’, quite a sombre start. The original is just as sweet, but the violin/cello/double bass heavily dominates the reinvention- it has a distinctly more powerful effect; Amos’s voice catches the same velvet constant of the strings. ‘Yes Anastasia’ has more showy intentions; it cuts short the lyrics to the last verses of the first song. It is more Hollywood score and as the original derives from one of her first albums, Amos is obviously trying to mature and give new meaning to her works. The album also reads as an autobiography. Amos has always openly song written about her life and relationships.

The match between Tori and the orchestra is often thoughtful and aware of the previous versions. ‘Winter’, for example, marries the same ivory-tapping as the original. The only audible differences come in the recording style. For me, some of the songs sound too much like direct coverings of Amos’s own work. ‘Programmable Soda’ is still merry and cheery as ever, but the new album version is just too similar. It disconnects the discourse into a more ‘greatest hits of..’ feel,

However, some genius follows on in ‘Snow Cherries From France’. Perhaps one Amos’s most skip-worthy tunes; ‘Gold Dust’ turns it into an almost harrowing account. Perhaps time has added some more emotional associations for Amos, or maybe the Orchestra is a perfect marriage for the beautiful string symphony and rhetorical lyrics.

One of Amos’s phenomenal-and famous- hits, ‘Silent All These Years’, is (thankfully) not tampered with an awful lot. This version is lighter on its feet, and for a song that must mean an extreme amount to its creator, is completely enhanced by the Metropole. If anything, the tune is easier to listen to. Amos’s matchless voice becomes less baffling to listen to. The layering of her harmonies is still present, yet gentler and entrancing.

It is hard not to compare reinventions to their predecessors. Amos has almost created an entirely new dialogue with her choice of tracks, but sometimes (and not surprisingly), some of the airs should not have been tampered. The final song, ‘Girl, Disappearing’, finishes the album on a complete high. Twenty years on, controversial or not, Tori Amos definitely still has not lost what makes her iconic.

Rating: 3/5

Words: Bryony Taylor



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