Male sensitivity seems to be today’s hot topic. Women demand it, men try it, but fie on Robert Bly. All it takes for a guy to get in touch with what women really want is 57 minutes with Tori Amos’s debut disc.
All too often, these kinds of gentle, thoughtful tunes get peremptorily dismissed as “girl music.” Yet there’s something about the engaging melodies and introspective lyrics from this North Carolina singer-songwriter, who now makes her home in London, that brings “boy music” hero Bruce Springsteen to mind.
At first, Amos bears a resemblance to another girl music queen, Kate Bush. Amos’s voice—one moment a sexy whisper and the next a diva’s belt—and her austere piano-and-percussion sound sometimes seem an echo of Bush’s earlier work. But it’s Amos’s highly personal stories that make her sound like a sex-changed Springsteen.
In “Silent All These Years,” she tells of a woman learning to assert herself in a suffocating relationship. In “Girl,” Amos examines someone who “has been everybody else’s girl.” The chilling a capella “Me and a Gun” describes a rape scene straight out of Thelma and Louise.
With her gift for masking blunt lyrics with lush melodies. Amos ought to tame all but the grisliest macho man. (Atlantic)