Twenty years ago, a feisty red-head released Little Earthquakes, immediately establishing herself as a tour-de-force of songwriting majesty comparable (often tiresomely) to Kate Bush. A couple of years later, she’d be sharing magazine covers with Björk and PJ Harvey, the new royalty of feminist-empowered indie. The two decades since have been remarkable for all three women, but Tori Amos’s trajectory has proven the least compelling in the last few years. 2011’s Night Of Hunters, tremendously orchestral and epic in scale, was the antithesis of her indie-credible days. She’d gone from the artist you’d buy for edge to the one you’d share with your mum.
Gold Dust, a collaboration with the Dutch Metropole Orkest (last heard helping reinvent Basement Jaxx’s catalogue), explores the nooks and crannies of Amos’s back catalogue in a way that will satisfy the most voracious of fans. Seeing as most of these 14 songs were based on orchestral arrangements in the first place, some songs are given a welcome sprucing. Silent All These Years still packs lyrical punch, simplicity remaining intact with the orchestra restrained, while Marianne, Precious Things and Snow Cherries From France benefit from the expanded arrangements. Elsewhere, new depths are simply not found and Metropole seem under utilised.
Gold Dust’s tracklist eschews ‘the greatest hits’; Metropole aren’t as prominent as they were on the Jaxx project and it’s not as theatrical as Night Of Hunters. When partnered with its predecessor, some may view Gold Dust as an indulgent trip up the artist’s own vagina. Others will enjoy the new perspectives.
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