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CD Review: Tori Amos – the Beekeeper

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PM Rating System Grade: B- | Genre:
Progressive Rock
Summary: If you are patient, there is certainly an ample supple of gems burrowed in the Beekeeper, but it’s frustrating to see Tori not fully tapping into her potential that we know lies smoldering beneath.

It’s been a year and a half since Tori released the astounding Scarlet’s Walk. Scarlet’s Walk marked Tori’s return to brilliance after many years spent wandering in the musical desert.

Although it proved a long-winded effort, it was classic Tori. It focused on her intimate relationship with the piano as she chronicled from the road the country’s jumble of emotions that unraveled in the months following 9/11. Tracks like “Taxi Ride”, “Strange” and “A Sorta Fairytale” equaled the best in her impeccable catalog. Scarlet’s Walk, on the whole, was as good as anything we’ve heard since Under the Pink.

Tori’s renaissance seems to have taken a detour as we are introduced to her lukewarm effort The Beekeeper. It’s not that the material is bad per se. It just seems very complacent and lacking of emotion and soul. She is nice when she should bite into us like Reznor. She’s careful when she needs to be daring. In other words, where the heck is Tori buried in this album?

The chances that she does take are a mixed bag. “Witness”, a gospel soaked tune, is over reaching and dull. “Hoochie Woman” surfs on a similar vein though settles in much easier with its rolling pianos and slick rhythm. The over the top punctuation of “hoo, hoo, hoo” even seem to strangely work. The one commonality it shares with Scarlet’s Walk is an inability to figure out where to cut the fat.

This album spans an eye-opening 19 songs clocking in at 60 minutes. It is littered with empty, forgettable tracks. Take your pick from “Mother Revolution”, “Ireland”, “Barons of Suburbia” or “Ribbons Undone”. Culling this set to around 10 tracks and allocating the remaining as b-sides would have been extremely helpful to add a focus to this album.

She does seek redemption with standout tracks like “Sleeps with Butterflies”, “Martha’s Foolish Ginger” and “Original Sinsuality” that echo a more traditional Tori. “Cars and Guitars” is also a very nice piece pegged completely on her full-bodied voice. Her only saving grace is that she is Tori, goddess of music, and even her tepid efforts sound better than most artists’ best.

If you are patient, there are certainly an ample supple of gems burrowed in the Beekeeper, but it’s frustrating to see Tori not fully tapping into her potential that we know lies smoldering beneath.

For more music critiques by this reviewer, please visit PM Media Review.

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About Mark Runyon

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Does it all sound the same. She is so good in rock out mode or trying anythng new. Or, here you seem to be saying when she does try something new it ain’t grand.

    She’s good. But I won’t hurry as much as I might have to buy it.

  • http://www.pmmediareview.com/ Mark Runyon

    No she’s definitely mixing things up throwing us a bit of gospel over a taste of Cajun, but it only works some of the time. Going forward I think we’ll be seeing her rock out less and less given the trend from her past handful of albums. Its worth checking out if you like her work but you’re right it can wait.

  • Eric Olsen

    we were watching the “Retro-active,” ie alternative ’80s, cable channel for a while last night and we realized that Tori Amos is exceptionally similar to Kate Bush in singing and approach to songwriting, if not exactly in musical style. I like Kate much better.

    Thanks Mark!

  • http://www.thedent.com Joe P.

    Not her best work… I’d say the b- is very fair, to much religious overtone and mother eather stuff for me, I guess that is still why you never see her speak on any of her guest shots on mainstream TV.
    I’m still at ‘Little Earthquakes’ as my favorite and her best….

    It was my 19.99 and now .02

  • Tristan

    i saw tori here in West Palm beach about 10 years ago—tickets were about $7 ~~!
    her parents live near me here-it was the 1st time she had sung the rape song in front of them–Me & A Gun—-
    i loved her albums back then: with Crucify & Little Earthquakes~~~
    haven’t really liked anything she’s done since Boys for Pele–just those 1st two albums—seems she lost her “EDGE” or something after that~
    right about the time she started getting “FAMOUS” ~~~~!!!!!

    http://witchery.myblogsite.com

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    God she’s so amazing you just expect so much from her – and yet she seems to toddle along with the same style, same weirdness and same piano – and yet still is so so good. Payday is Wednesday then I’m coming back right here and buying her album.

    That’ll be the waiting. :-)

  • http://www.pmmediareview.com/ Mark Runyon

    That sounds like my definition of waiting.

    As far as losing her edge goes, a friend and I discussed this the other day. He proposed that marriage and family have dulled her (happiness in other words). I don’t know that being a tortured artist necessarily equates to being a good one though its an interesting thought. The new Coldplay should be an interesting test on that theory.

    I agree that ‘Little Earthquakes’ is still the highlight of her career and one of the best albums ever made IMHO. Something happened after ‘Under the Pink’ where her lyrics have progressively gotten more obscure and abstract. It’s hard to have an emotional connection with your listener when what you have to say is so veiled.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    not being a lyrics guy, the relative opaqueness of Tori’s lyrics have never bothered me.

    sure, the stuff on Little Earthquakes was more direct. that does mean the lyrics were ‘better’ (whatever that means).

    i like this record a lot. i still need a while to ‘digest’ what’s going on before coming up with a review.

    as for Coldplay, i did’t “get” them the first time around.

  • Maurice

    I always buy Tori’s albums as soon as they come out. I’m not into the lyrics but I am blown away by her piano playing. Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, and Boys for Pele are my favorites.

  • Paul Robinson

    I really have enjoyed this album. There are a few numbers on it that I am not deeply into yet. Perhaps in time on those, but it doesn’t bother me that they are there. Yes, with Tori you do not get “straight-line” lyrics…much is left for your own interpretation, which I kind of prefer. In most cases I can see where she is going with a song, the lack of concrete metaphors or direct references does not particularly bother me…if my interpretation differs from what she had in mind, so what? The works make me think while I’m enjoying the superb musicianship she always renders. I like the way her lyrics tickle my brain.

  • Tristan

    When I 1st saw Tori perform live here around 10 years ago—

    it was in a small art-deco-type theatre here in West Palm Beach–

    she was all by herself–just her and her grand piano—

    1/2 her songs she did a capella–without even the piano~~

    and she was in a hot pair of very tight jeans and a plain shirt–

    she sat astride the piano bench facing the audience as she sang and looked as if she was masturbating against the bench as she looked at us……..

    very eerie and “intense” ~~~

    and the power and “awe” as she played Little Earthquakes was stunning….

    when she finished there was dead silence in the audience-

    it was one of the most “spiritual” experiences of my lifetime….

    i got to meet her afterwards–
    she came outside the theatre on the sidewalk to meet any fans waiting—
    she was very shy & timid and extremely “nice” —very un-“starlike” …!!!!!

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Mark,

    I launched this on the world – or at least the part of the world that scours Advance.net for the (family-friendly) cream of the BC Web log.

    Here’s the link. Sorry here.

    – Thanks. Temple

  • http://www.pmmediareview.com Mark Runyon

    Very cool. Thanks~

  • Void.

    I am probably a rare Tori fan who thinks that she peaked with From the Choirgirl Hotel, from where her music started losing intensity and it all went downhill. Having listened to a few songs from The Beekeeper, I may be buying a couple tracks on iTunes but the overall effort leaves me frustrated.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Beekeeper does indeed have an air of freshness, and a range that surpasses Choirgirl but not quite so much as To Venus and Back. I got Beekeeper early last week and it is a listening pleasure.

    Tori requires an appreciation of a certain number of musical styles at once, and it’s hard as “light listening.” And I believe that’s a compliment though I’m not always ready to “think” about my music so much.

  • Ash B.

    I think everyones comments are outrageous and indigenous; just goes to show how simple minded the human mind really is… The Beekeeper may not sound like a whore singing to her pimp wanting more. But it has more truth than I have ever heard Tori express and the expression does effect those that have true ears to hear.
    I love this album in fact not being an obsessed stalker fan like the most of you, has brought me closer to the work that is being ascertained; thus bringing me to the conclusion. I am very pleased that no one understands the beauty of this album as much as her true fans can.

  • Monica

    Well it seems to me that you are comparing tori and far fetched faggot trent reznor to each other. How pathetic. Humans like you wouldn’t know maturity if it bit you in the ass ..what does tori say ” with their nine inch nails and fascist panties tucked inside the heart of every nice girl” america does find it amusing to drool over a geek with a long black coat..aka..a human wanting to suck a demons genital for publicity. I wonder how many of you bent over or opened your legs for your daddy when he wore a black trench coat. Tori is an artist and you are not..accept going home to your pitiful lives where all your worth is to make a company a buck or two just to fill their slots for those who have REAL lives.