Before there was Adele, Katy Perry, or any of the dozens of female singer-songwriters currently on the music scene, there was Tori Amos. Since the early 1990′s, Tori Amos has paved the way for female composers and songstresses, enchanting millions of audiences around the world with her powerful lyrics and memorable melodies. After her solo project, “Little Earthquakes,” debuted in 1992, Tori Amos released 12 studio albums, over 30 singles, 60 b-sides and has contributed to numerous film soundtracks. For over a decade, Tori’s albums have been accompanied by studio synthesizers and a band, specifically Matt Chamberlin and John Evans who have toured with the singer for years, but with “Night of Hunters,” Tori returns to her classical roots. “Night of Hunters”, Tori Amos’ newest masterpiece and first album with Deutsche Grammophon, is a throwback to the singer’s Peabody Conservatory days where she learned about classical pieces spanning the last 400 years. But in true Tori style, the song cycle is made relevant with a modern, ongoing story. While exploring her usual themes of love, lost, religion and spirituality, Tori allows her vocals and the piano to take center stage.
While Tori’s vocals are impeccable, they are not the only ones featured on the album. Ms. Amos is joined by her daughter Natashya Hawley and niece Kelsey Dobyns, who both play characters in the mystical song-cycle.
But Tori’s voice is not the only thing that captivated me when listening to this album. I am a fan of classical music, so when the first track, “Shattering Sea”, began the song cycle I was automatically excited to hear the piano followed by strings and woodwinds. If there’s one thing classical music can do, it’s paint a vivid picture in a listener’s head. It automatically sets the scene by the speed and intensity of the instruments, and comes all together as soon as Amos begins to sing. If she sung acapella I would be happy, but the instrumental accompaniment only helps enhance the entire experience, allowing the listener to fall immediately in love.
An album is never truly an album without lyrics, and the lyrics do not fall short of the vocals or music. Well written, the lyrics and music combined paint the most vivid pictures that the listener can lean back, close their eyes, and see the entire story play before them. My favorite songs on this album are “SnowBlind”, a slow and enchanting song, a daring choice to put as the second song on the album, and “Job’s Coffin”, another slow, but beautiful, piece that uses wind instruments and piano to help lead the listener on a heartbreaking journey.
One of the most touching tracks, “Carry”, the album’s first single, provides a bookend to Tori’s first solo single, “Silent All These Years”, which was released almost 20 years ago. “Silent All These Years” marked the beginning of the artist’s journey to find her voice. Tori has indeed found her voice with “Carry”, a sentiment that “will never be forgotten”.
From an album of all covers (“Strange Little Girls”) to a recent Christmas album (“Midwinter Graces”), Tori is certainly not one to shy away from risks but this is the first time she committed to a classical album, and I am glad she did. Beautiful vocals, enchanting music, and inspiring lyrics score an A+ for “Night of Hunters”.