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Unrepentant Geraldines (Bonus Track Version)
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Out of the flux of ambition and distraction and imagination came Tori Amos's 14th studio album: Unrepentant Geraldines. It s a vivid and vital album on which Amos once more zeroes in on the writing of brightly melodic, deftly evocative chamber-pop. Fairy-tale soul-poems, you might say. Or, a view from the middle-aged bridge. Women would talk to me about feeling trapped, which is explored a lot in this record there s a freedom I had writing this record.
Unrepentant Geraldines was written over the past few years and entirely recorded in her Cornwall studio with long-time collaborators Mark Hawley and Marcel Van Limbeek, working as a triangle.
2014 brought a fresh approach to creating and working for Tori. The album features Trouble s Lament, an eerie Southern blues song in which Amos s matchless voice conjures up images of how the flames from Satan s tongue are charged and licking at her heels...
America s South makes a tangential appearance in Giant s Rolling Pin. It s a pithy, spry, jig-like satire on the NSA/Edward Snowden affair that also references the magical, truth-giving powers of pies made by Beth, Marlene and Caroline, three remarkable women based out of a café near Amos s beach home in Florida.
From global and institutional politics to personal and emotional ones: Oysters is a classic Amos piano ballad, evocative of her timeless breakthrough album, 1992 s Little Earthquakes.
Unrepentant Geraldines is available on CD, CD/DVD Deluxe Edition and Vinyl.
I've always been inspired by visual artists of all mediums because, as with Music, Art is not a job you can go to and leave from; but it is something that defines who and what you are.
Visual artists shake up our brains and force us to look at everything, from objects we don't normally think twice about to people we might not have cared about. In one image they can remind us of Nature's power to enchant, as well as
humankind's fruitless attempt to overpower her or simply second-guess her. Through the Visual Artist's application of tone, shape, pattern, and pigment I not only begin to see, but I can honestly say I begin to hear. --Tori Amos
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That is why I must give Unrepentant Geraldines only three out of five stars. What would be a solid and poignant album by any other artist, is lackluster by Tori Amos standards. When weighed against Tori's pre-classical albums (Abnormally Attracted to Sin, American Doll Posse, and The Beekeeper), it does not stand out. The sparse production, which is stripped down to vocals, piano, and minimal guitar, seems bland and disengaged, rather than raw and fresh. Whereas Abnormally Attracted to Sin experimented and innovated with stylish electronica, and American Doll Posse returned Tori to the spirit and anger that made the music rock, Unrepentant Geraldines sounds most like a watered-down version of The Beekeeper. The soft piano and guitar is reminiscent of Sleeps With Butterflies or Ribbons Undone, but without the grand and ambitious concept that was behind that work, which made it seem more substantial.
Unrepentant Geraldines fortunately contains some pleasant music, including the gorgeous ballad "Selkie" and the political folk of "America," which would not have been out of place on Scarlet's Walk. I love the romantic love songs, but I miss the grand concept, the fury, and the glamour of the 2000's. I miss the electronica, rock, and piano, and how they mingled in marvelous, ecclectic, and epic designs. I miss the creative and kooky album artwork, with Tori in provocative and stirring poses, and confident in her outlandish beauty.
What we have represented here is a mother who plays love songs on the piano. It's just not as exciting.
I was immediately charmed by "16 Shades of Blue", from the lyrics to the production value itself, but rarely connected with the rest of the album. Familiar themes aside, I haven't found the connecting thread. The bulk of the lyrics once again remind us that, whether you're her lover or the prince of darkness himself, she's not to be messed with. But we've heard that before. A lot. Maybe that's why tracks like "Selkie" are more fresh and interesting to me. It, like a handful of others on the album, are story songs rather than tired confessions.
Tori's always been able to master a hook, and they pop up a time or two on "Geraldines". Chord structures and instrumentation are sometimes reminiscent of The Beatles ("Giant's Rolling Pin" and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" are most definitely cousins). But the bulk of the album seems half baked, rushed, messy, meandering. A writer's first thought isn't always their best one, and it's wise to remember to do a final mirror check before leaving for the party. Even at its quirkiest, "Geraldines" has a heaviness about it that even Tori's (always impressive) soaring vocals can't fix.
The most disappointing track is Tori's cloyingly sweet duet with her daughter, "Promise", which isn't so much a lousy track as it is out of place, due in part to Natasha's trendy vocal riffing. The kid's got a beautiful voice, but I would rather hear it on her own album than her mother's. It's a stumbling block on an already bumpy ride.
I once again applaud Tori for remaining true to her point of view and for creating discussion among her listeners, old fans and new. At the end of the day, this is the artist at 50. And, as always, she's a dynamic and sometimes polarizing force. Take her or leave her, Tori's a true original with proven staying power. "Geraldines" just got lost in translation.
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Tori Amos' first three long play albums (Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, and Boys for Pele) were all masterpieces.Read more