From the Choir Girl Hotel

From the Choir Girl Hotel

For 1998’s From the Choirgirl Hotel, Tori Amos confronts her rock n’ roll self. For her previous solo albums, she sat at her piano and concocted a shifting art-rock that spoke of grim tragedies, uncomfortable situations, and identity issues with a forthrightness often at odds with the soothing, exquisitely tailored music. Here, Amos cranks up the beats, allows the bass and drums to guide her, and lets out more than a cat’s meow when prodded. As if deciding that 1996’s Boys for Pele was too quiet in its defiance, Amos comes out swinging. “Spark” steps forth with a strong sense of purpose and leads directly into “Cruel,” a song driven by quaking beats and multi-tracked vocal takes that bounce off one another to moan in frustration. “Black-Dove (January)” uses orchestral backing and dynamics for a thrilling, ominous ride. “She’s Your Cocaine” minces few words with its bar room angst. “Playboy Mommy” uses a sultry groove to prove women interpret their motherhood roles differently. “Raspberry Swirl” and “Hotel” break for the dancefloor. It’s Amos’ most sonically ambitious album.

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