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CD: Tori Amos - Unrepentant Geraldines | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Tori Amos - Unrepentant Geraldines

CD: Tori Amos - Unrepentant Geraldines

A welcome return to contemporary songwriting from the boundary-pushing artist

Motherhood, mythology and memories: Tori Amos' "Unrepentant Geraldines"

“If 50 is the new black, hooray, this could be your lucky day,” Tori Amos sings on “16 Shades of Blue”, the track from new album Unrepentant Geraldines most obviously touched by the big birthday that the singer, who has been releasing music since her early 20s, just passed. With its woozy beats, odd sound effects and references to the paintings of Paul Cézanne it’s a curious song, likely to throw those more fond of Amos’ recent forays into classical and orchestral music. Still it’s the one whose lyrics - a meandering stream-of-consciousness on femininity and ageing - that have struck me the most.

That Amos is no stranger to boundaries, having pushed or tested most of them throughout her lengthy career, is both a blessing and a curse - it means that her work has rarely been stagnant, but that it’s unlikely she will never make another album like the ones you fell in love with in your teens. Unrepentant Geraldines is, however, a welcome return to contemporary songwriting for Amos, and one that perhaps indicates a new, more self-assured phase in an already distinguished body of work. Although many of its songs - and its striking cover - were inspired by visual art, the album shies sway from committing to the concepts that have characterised her recent work. It features songs about motherhood, mythology and memories, all set to some of Amos’ prettiest and most expansive compositions since 2002’s Scarlet’s Walk.

With “America”, the album opens with a dainty riff reminiscent of Coldplay’s “Clocks” and a portrait of the ‘other’ America captured in the photography of Diane Arbus, before the mischievous swing-step of “Trouble’s Lament”. “Wild Way” is the first and probably weakest of several lush, striking piano ballads - the gorgeous “Selkie”, with its call-and-response chorus, is so beautifully done that it’s almost a fairytale. The album has its share of skippable tracks - the cutesy “Giant’s Rolling Pin” is either about home baking or the NSA while “Promise”, a duet between Amos and her 13-year-old daughter Tash, errs on the side of saccharine - but there’s plenty to love about Tori yet.

Overleaf: listen to the album's "16 Shades of Blue"

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