Another Tori Amos album, another overarching concept – which elicits trepidation these days, given that, for the last decade, her material has creaked beneath laboured over-explanations in lieu of the thrillingly cryptic bewilderment she had the confidence to trade on in her artistic prime. Thankfully, her "classical song cycle" necessitates sonic ambition as well: that Amos can weave her own songs so deftly into variations on classical pieces is testament to her talent, and the piano/strings/woodwind arrangements of Night of Hunters frequently sound as lovely as earlier orchestral experiments such as Yes, Anastasia. The heart-pounding drama of opener Shattering Sea even nears that career highlight's intensity. But the album's narrative – Celtic whimsy meets marriage counselling – is overthought, often dragging Amos's lyrics into cringeworthy territory, and the bulk of it is given over to resolution rather than build-up. Amos herself performs with an insistently flat calmness: when her 11-year-old daughter Natashya pops up on a few tracks, in character as a shape-shifting fox, she actually proves an odder, witchier, more compelling voice than her mother, who could be mistaken for her piano teacher.
Tori Amos: Night of Hunters – review
Alex Macpherson is a freelance journalist who writes for The Guardian, New Statesman, Metro, Fact and Attitude. He distracts himself by checking tennis results, attending street dance classes and trawling for new music in the name of research