Thursday, March 14, 2013

This Is Your Song For....March 14th, 2013: Welcome To England by Tori Amos

Somehow I don't think she's going to let you in on
the joke....

Ahhh,’s time to finally address an artist I’ve referenced many times in the course of this blog (like here and here), an artist I’ve had a rather odd relationship with.

There was a time--namely, in the early years of her solo career--where I had an intense crush on Ms. Amos.  In a way, I guess it’s understandable, as Amos was something of a stand-in for every alterna-geek chick of that period.  And those early albums--Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, Songs From The Choirgirl Hotel, etc--were very nuanced and had a lot of that sweet-melody-with-dark-center stuff that I loved, plus many of the songs had a storytelling element that appealed to me.

(Okay, it also didn’t hurt that she was a redhead with off-kilter looks who played a piano like she was fucking it, either.  Or that she had this kinda purry/growly thing she liked to do with her voice.  Or...

Okay, maybe there’s still a lil’ bit of that crush still left alive in me.)

As we moved into a later period of her career where her whimsy seemed to overtake her darkness, I stopped following her career as closely--after all, as I’ve stated elsewhere, if I want my artists to evolve I have to accept that they might evolve into something I won’t like.

Which brings us to Abnormally Attracted To Sin and this, the lead single off of that album.  Supposedly, this was going to be the first single Amos was going to release on her own before backing off and signing with Universal Republic, and it seems to mark a return to that period of hers I enjoyed so much.  Hell, it sounds sonically very, very much like an outtake from the albums cited above.  An ode to her adopted country--she moved to England with her then-boyfriend, now husband to gain a little privacy, believe it or not--it doesn’t quite reach the storytelling heights of the best songs off, let’s say, Choirgirl, but it has its moments.  I particularly like the way there seems to be some ambivalence in Amos’ lyrics about the city, admitting on some level that she still feels an outsider, that she’s stuck dancing a different dance from everyone around her, that she’s still stuck ‘bringing her own sun.’  This sense of otherness is emphasized by the way Amos frequently lapses into a broad version of her own southernness during the song.  And I admit that, after a couple of years of stuff about bees and cars and hardcore whimsy, it’s great to hear her wonder about how cold it’ll be when her heart bursts in the middle of the song.

It’s weird--for someone who was with Amos at the very start of her solo career, this song comes off as comfort food.  It’s a favorite artist doing the sort of music she did when I initially became enamored of her.  I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing--while her recent releases included Night of The Hunters, an album of fairy tale songs written in collaboration with her daughter that seems to be a return to her storytelling roots, it also included Gold Dust, her attempt to get in on that ‘artists re-record their greatest hits’ trend I find so loathsome (which I need to get a ‘Cover-versies’ out about soon)--but for what it is, I’m okay with it.  I just wonder if she’s decided to regress rather than continue with the evolution she seemed to be going through in the ‘00s...and I also don’t know which direction I’m rooting for.

Here's the video.  It's got lots of nice places in London in it...

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