Tori Amos
Unrepentant Geraldines
Mercury Classics
Street: 05.09
Tori Amos = Rufus Wainwright + ‘70s-era Elton John

After successfully dabbling in a more traditional “classical” world for two albums, it only takes one listen to Amos’ new song cycle—especially her deliciously rousing title track—to know she has returned to her indie-pop/rock musical roots. And what a welcome— “America” is playful, “Trouble’s Lament” is pure bliss and, like “Wedding Day,” boasts a blues-infused acoustic groove. The message of the Cézanneinspired “16 Shades Of Blue” is arrestingly about female aging, which comes up again to a lesser degree in the beautiful duet with her teenage daughter Natasha Hawley called “Promise.” The serious spying themes of the FBI and NSA are balanced with Amos’ ever-playful use of female characters (I always love how she enunciates her choices) on the whimsical “Giant’s Rolling Pin.” Ballads—always an Amos strength—make a big return here, especially “Weatherman,” “Oysters,” “Selkie” and the gorgeous “Invisible Boy.” –Dean O Hillis