If you had said to me, as recently as two weeks ago, that I would be writing a review of the new Tori Amos record, I probably would have kicked you and run away very quickly. But here I am, about to discuss Night Of Hunters with a group of people who may be just as uninterested in Amos’ career as I am. Or maybe you guys love Tori Amos and I’m about to get flamed like never before. Either way, let’s keep it on point.
In the last decade I kind of forgot that Tori Amos existed. The last album of hers that I listened to from start to finish was Under The Pink. I understood why it stood out and some latched onto it, but I didn’t care for it all. In the years since, another redheaded, piano-playing singer has made some waves. While I don’t love everything Regina Spektor has done, I do prefer her style to the 10-time Grammy nominee.
So, when I was looking at upcoming releases I just grabbed it on a whim figuring the worse that could happen is I waste a little time. As it turns out, the record is 72 minutes long, and not at all the terrible mess I was thinking it would be (and kind of hoping for).
There are things I don’t like about the record, for sure, but overall I think it’s a well-made piece of art. Lyrically Amos isn’t exactly breaking new ground-bad relationships, misogyny, abuse, and religion aren’t new to Amos. What is new is the way they’re presented. The first couple times through the album I found it to be almost like a film score with words. Very cinematic and compelling. Then as time went by I realized that Night of Hunters is basically a contemporary classical record. Someone wrote about the record and compared her to Erik Satie, which I think is pretty good (his “Gymnopedie No. 1” is brilliant).
The piano work by Amos on this record is maybe her best ever, and the string arrangements really lend a depth unattainable by piano alone. Her vocals are almost operatic at times, and each song has at least a moment of brilliance. They don’t last nearly long enough though, and much of this overcooked album hangs in the chasm between boring and amazing.
My favorite song on the record is “Job’s Coffin.” It gives Tori’s daughter Natashya Hawley a chance to shine, and at ten years old her voice is ridiculous. I thought maybe it was a track that Amos had laid down years ago and never finished. Female empowerment at it’s best is how I’d describe the song, but I’ll let you guys be the judge:
I like Night Of Hunters enough to wholeheartedly endorse it for Amos fans. People who don’t consider themselves members of Team Tori might do well to give it a chance. It may not win you over, but it will change your perception of her as an artist.