Album Review: Tori Amos – American Doll Posse

I’ve been skeptical of Tori since “Scarlet’s Walk”, when she seemingly turned adult contemporary for two albums. I remember once I said, “I like old Tori Amos” to a fellow Tori fan, and she didn’t get it.

Well, I’m proud to say I like the current Tori Amos too now. “American Doll Posse” is a marathon in much the same way “Boys for Pele” is. It’s lots of songs (23 in this case), many of which are just short little ditties. Like “Fat Slut,” which is a brief conversation, but like most Tori conversations, you’re never sure how many people are involved.

The posse mentioned in the title is a real group. Well, a real made up group anyway. Tori’s created five personas, including one for herself, and these are the dolls who sing the songs. The digipack explains it all. Listening to the album, the characters make no difference. There aren’t really five types of songs, it’s probably more in the subject matter but it’s barely noticeable.

What’s interesting here is how Tori has focused on the songs themselves. Clearly this is what happens when she works with a band. I’m not a Tori purist — I don’t care if it’s just her and a piano or her and a metal band, which does happen here. I love that there’s electric guitar on nearly every song. In fact, some of the best songs, “Big Wheel”, “Bouncing off Clouds”, and “You Can Bring Your Dog”are great because of the guitar. They are all poppy and infectious and interesting lyrically, in that special Tori way.

But there’s a couple surprises in the last three songs. I totally thought “Posse Bonus” was a bonus track as I listened in my car because of its campiness and deliberate lyrics, “This is your posse bonus…” But no, there’s two more excellent songs, including the spooky and masterful “Smokey Joe“, which I swear is about “Fried Green Tomatoes”. I think it’s the best song of the album. Her voice and the mix is absolutely amazing, and those purists can’t object since it’s traditional Tori.

I give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is definitely one of her top three albums. “This is your posse bonus / cuz I like you..” Thanks, I like you too, Tori.

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