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 Misandry as a Marketing Tool?

Little Earthquakes Stunning Debut. Haunting tunes. In retrospect, quite a mushy album though.
Under the Pink A bit of the status quo. More polish, less raw energy, but fantastic sound.
Boys to Pele Weird. Weird. Weird.
From the Choirgirl Hotel Brilliant, transcendental, sublime.

In my radio/cassette listening era, Kate Bush was just amazing. With perhaps unequalled songwriting ability at her prime, it made me take a dim view of those who sought to claim her throne. I have to admit that I dismissed Tori Amos as a light-weight Kate Bush pretender, perhaps too caught up in misandric to write good music. Sure, I have always loved Silent All these Years, but it ain't no 'Running Up that Hill'. Still that were numerous things of merit about the album, not least was the superb piano sound. Also, Kate Bush had a voice that, when properly invoked (sometimes she screeches like a mad witch), spoke of deep mysteries and transcendental truths. This voice, coupled with her songwriting, resulted in the overuse of the word 'sublime' :)

Ultimately, as one gets into Hi-Fi, Kate Bush becomes problematic as her music is like all arranged by her mainly on synthesiser. (yes, she also pre-dates Enya), and her CDs sound really, really bad. Sigh. So I find myself listening more and more to Tori, especially the quieter pieces with vocals + piano + minimal accompaniment.

I would definitely recommend 'Little Earthquakes' as a first album. Its filled with gems like Silent All These Years, Winter (yes, also sung by Faye Wong in Mandarin), mushy songs like China, angst filled songs like 'Crucify' and 'Little Earthquakes'. Its all extremely listenable. And then theres 'Me and a Gun', where a rape victim narrates her ordeal. Tori is active in RAINN (rape & incest national network) and she rereleased Silent All These Years (live and album version) in support of this. I got it for S$4.99 at Junction 8 (thanks to my colleague for giving me the info) So maybe, her misandry isn't something affected.

Under the Pink refines the sound even further and is perhaps one of the best-sounding pop albums, especially the Bösendorfer sound. However, the material is strangely confused as Tori can't seem to find her direction. As usual, the first album is all about love songs, but then when it comes to writing other sort of material, shes gets a bit confused (hey, it happened to Suzanne Vega too after Solitude Standing).

After this comes Boys to Pele, and I wonder how the pictures in the insert got past the Singapore censors (Tori, ummm, breast feeding a ...) Its just too weird, and in the pieces where she pays the harpshichord, its just too jarring for me to listen to. Still, she is progressing somewhere with this album, but the place she's going to is too weird for me.

I don't know what happened, but she seems to have returned with 'Choirgirl Hotel'. She includes a fictional map in her insert which seems to set the theme. Its about travelling to (or from) a place called the choirgirl hotel. I have yet to figure this one out as there's no accompanying text.

She has dumped here classic piano + accompaniment sound in favour of a more pop-oriented arrangement. The piano can still be heard, fortunately. I'll have to call it Bjork-like. Still, she far exceeds anything Bjork has done. There are strong lyrics which complement her impassioned, expressive (oh-I'm-a-fragile-waif) singing style. Perhaps her best album yet, but to appreciate it, you have to listen to Little Earthquakes to see the road she took to get here.