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Album Review: Tori Amos, ‘American Doll Posse’

Tori Amos (Supplied publicity photo, 2007)

Over the course of nine albums, Tori Amos has consistently taken the hard road when putting out an album. Her obsessive love for the concept record is ambitious, but it has also hindered her past three albums. On her latest, American Doll Posse, the singer-songwriter takes on five different alter egos; “Pip,” “Santa,” “Isabel,” “Clyde” and “Tori.” Each woman has her own specific wardrobe, hair and make-up, online blog, and catalogue of songs. As a result of this mish-mash of characters, Posse suffocates on its own pretentious excess, especially over 20 tracks. However, Posse has some of her most focused work since 1998’s from the choirgirl hotel. Like choirgirl, Posse has a darker edge that’s ingrained into every track; whether it’s a piano ballad, poppy radio track, or a 50-second skit. Like many current artists, Amos’ lyrics are fuelled by disgust for America’s current administration and its policies. Opener “Yo George” quietly wonders, “Is this the just the madness of King George / Yo George / You have the whole nation on all fours.” Another war-time anthem, “Almost Rosy” exclaims, “When I hear of one more bomb… / When is enough enough?” She also throws in some guitar-driven tracks, standouts include “Big Wheel”, “Code Red” and “Body and Soul.” At times the guitars sound over-produced, hanging on the edge of cheesiness (especially on “Body and Soul”) but the guitars do help fill out the songs. Edited down, American Doll Posse could have been one of Amos’ best albums – but there’s too much filler to keep up interest for almost 80 minutes and the “characters” of this play are just extras in the way of the real Amos’ message.

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