Tori Amos – Night Of Hunters (Deutsche Grammophon)

The back-story of this, Tori Amos’ 12th studio album, is this: The folks at the prestigious German classical label Deutsche Grammophon approached Tori with the idea of creating a song cycle based on classical themes. With Tori’s background, this would seem to be right up her alley…and it is.

The result is 14 beautifully ornate tracks built around works by classical composers like Debussy, Bach, Satie and Chopin. The overall concept that ties the songs together has something to do with a woman (named Tori) who is having relationship troubles and is visited by an otherworldly being named Annabelle (played by Amos’ 12-year-old daughter Natashya).

This is one of those projects that you can take as much or as little out of as you like. Tori has written rich, poetic lyrics to accompany the score. The music itself is based around Tori’s always impressive piano playing. Rather than the usual bass, drums and guitars, Amos is accompanied by a string section and acoustic instruments such as oboe, bassoon, clarinet and flute. This serves to highlight the classical aspect of the work even more and separates it from her more “pop” releases.

I’m not particularly well versed in classical music, so I can’t really comment on how much or how little she has used pieces like Shubert’s Piano Sonata in A major in the song Star Whisperer, but I can say that this combination of classical and pop seems to work very well.

Granted, there were a few moments when I felt I was working my way through a night at the opera…and I don’t mean the Queen album…but overall I found the album quite impressive, and often moving. It certainly starts with a dramatic bang…the first lyrics are “that is not my blood on the bedroom floor”. Apparently, some of the material is based on Tori’s real-life relationship with husband Mark Hawley, who engineered the recording. Their daughter does a fine job with the vocals she’s given to perform, so it’s a family affair, but one that encompasses about 500 years of musical history.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to The Chase from Night Of Hunters