Tori Amos: Native Invader review – calls out society's political and human ills

(Decca)

Tori Amos’s latest record is inspired by her mother’s ailing health and a sense of discontent at US society under Donald Trump (on Up the Creek she speaks of fighting against those “climate blind” with a “militia of the mind”, a far from oblique reference to a certain president’s fake news agenda). Across its 15 tracks, there are moments of greatness: Reindeer King is a swelling piano ballad about grief that boasts an ambient underside, while the aforementioned Up the Creek fuses a countryfied guitar loop with ominous strings, electro beats and backing vocals from Amos’s teenage daughter, Tash, to create a multifaceted soundscape.

Elsewhere, Bang’s tonal shifts – from near-a cappella chorus to crunching riffs – make it a grownup coda to Cornflake Girl. However, much of this album is forgettable: Broken Arrow and Cloud Riders are passable pop-rock for the Starbucks stereo, while Breakaway and Wildwood veer into extended metaphors on nature that feel digressive. That said, calling out societal ills in a literal sense isn’t always very effective either, as on Russia, which feels like a wasted opportunity to really stick the knife in.

Contributor

Hannah J Davies

The GuardianTramp

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