Tori Amos – Unrepented Geraldines
After a few years experimenting with classical projects and her fairy tale musical, Tori Amos’ 14th studio album, Unrepentant Geraldines, is a return to her pop/alternative rock roots and, with it, a reinstatement of at least some of what originally sparked her fans’ imagination. Stripped back from her last few albums’ unwieldy concepts, with only a nod to her “experiences with visual art” as a vague theme, Amos’ songwriting exhibits a little more of the creative freedom found in her 1992 debut album Little Earthquakes.
As evidenced by the album’s title, Amos continues to reinforce every woman’s inner unrepentant geraldine while rallying against the patriarchy. Troubles Lament starts the empowerment early with themes of sisterhood (“she is armed and will fight for the souls of girls around the world”) and female strength (“standing up to Satan, dancing on St Michael’s sword”). Switching between threatening American acoustic riffs and her usual piano led compositions, the song is an early highlight.
Lyrically, Amos is as ever somewhere between oblique poet and straightforward confessional, best illustrated by the track 16 Shades of Blue. Amos mixes robotic imagery with what appear to be direct quotations from her life (“get over it if 50 is the new black”), and references to turn of the century post-impressionist painters. The fragments of Amos’ life that are scattered throughout the album infuse the songs with a direct honesty that places them on a level above the more strictly allegorical tracks, but fortunately there are plenty of songs – like Wild Way, Promise and even the NSA-slating Giant’s Rolling Pin – that all have their links to reality.
In the past decade Amos has often reached almost unlistenable heights of self-indulgence, but in fact her 14-track album of simple, well-written songs is one of her most interesting in years, even if it’s still a little less threatening than some Amos fans might have hoped.
Joe Manners Lewis
Unrepentant Geraldines was released on 12th May 2014, for further information or to order the album visit here.
Watch the video for Trouble’s Lament here: