Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Music: Tori Amos - Scarlet's Walk

Album: Scarlet's Walk

Artist: Tori Amos

Release Date: October 29, 2002

Genre: Alternative Rock. Piano pop/rock.

There are some really great up and coming female artists out right now, which I will write about in a future post, but I wanted to call attention to an oldie but a goody, and my favorite album of all time, Tori Amos's Scarlet's Walk. Tori Amos is a very interesting, ecclectic artist, who first rose to fame in the 90s as a female singer song writer known for being a social commentator and for her emotionally intense songs. What's interesting about her is that she tends to take on different characters through her albums, meaning she writes and performs her songs as her alter egos. For Scarlet's Walk, she explores the loosely-based on herself character of Scarlet, and the album details her travel through America. It was released a year after the 9/11 attacks, and was written during Amos's cross-country road trip shortly after those attacks. It is essentially a travelogue and an ode to America, its history, its people, and its values across the landscape.

Scarlet's Walk is Amos's most commercial and commercially-successful album, and in which her piano takes a back seat to other sounds, such as drums and bass. For that reason, it sounds different from any of her previous efforts. A lot of the time, her songs are very experimental and thus harder to get into, but Scarlet's Walk is not like that. It deftly blends her piano skills with percussion, jazzy sounds, and guitar work to create a melodically pleasing overall sound. And of course, there's her voice/vocal range, which perfectly complements the atmospheric moods of all of her songs.

Amos is also known for her candid, sometimes puzzling, but always poetic, lyrics. This album is no exception. Her first and most successful single off the album is A Sorta Fairytale, a catchy, melancholy song that is also politically controversial in its lyrics about Native Americans. The rest of the album is filled with stark observations about American life- the epic I Can't See New York (for obvious reasons, a tribute to the city), Amber Waves (a tale about a porn star and men's exploitation of women), Taxi Ride (about her late friend Kevin Aucoin, the famous make up artist, which touches on anti-homosexuality).

For all these reasons, I think Scarlet's Walk is an important piece of American art, in addition to it being Amos's greatest and most relevant album. I listen to it all the time, and everytime I pick up on new things.

Recommended Tracks: Amber Waves, A Sorta Fairytale, Strange, Taxi Ride, I Can't See New York, Gold Dust
Grade: A


Julia Park said...

I studied a bit about her in my music theory class, and she is definitely an original artist.