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Ater sent in this review of American Doll Posse which appeared in the May 25th edition of the Dayton Daily News. So far, they have deigned not to post it on their site.
American Doll Posse
by Zack McGhee
What I would give to be a fly on the wall at the photo shoot for Tori Amos’ American Doll Posse, her ninth studio album and her best in at least 10 years.
The cover art for the album features all five members of the Posse: Isabel, Tori, Clyde, Pip and Santa. Who are these women? Why Tori Amos herself, of course. For the photos, she’s dressed in several distinct costumes. For the music, each song comes from the voice of a different character.
While this is not unlike what Amos did with Strange Little Girls (a collection of cover songs she released in 2000 where she took on the persona of a few different characters), there she explored different sides of her musical psyche, as well as the complex relationships between men and women in songs like Eminem’s ’97 Bonnie & Clyde. Ultimately what she does with ADP is much more interesting.
Amos has imaginatively divided herself into the complex parts that make her whole as a woman, ignoring as much as she can her celebrity and embracing just the feminine. From that, she weaves an intense tapestry of raw emotion—humor, sadness, anger and confusion—more than 23 miraculous tracks, ranging from a few seconds to five minutes, each no longer than they need to be, each a joy to behold.
Some of the highlights include the funny and charming Big Wheel, in which she explores how a modern woman may not need a man for support, but still can find herself attracted to the bearer of rugged, brutal masculinity. The whimsical Bouncing Off Clouds which tells the story of true love gone sour.
And in the quietly powerful Father’s Son, she reflects sadly on the way families will pass hate and violence on through the generations, and wonders, “Can you blame nature / If she’s had enough of us.”
With them all, what she uncovers is either that these women—and therefore all women—share enough common ground that they should want to look out for each other, personally and politically, and that together they might have enough strength to persevere.
Ultimately, she’s reserved the album’s true lesson for herself: That “the political is personal,” and “if you are going to be an American woman in 2007 with a real view on what is going on, you need to be brave and you need to know that some people won’t want to look at it.”
iPod picks: Big Wheel, Bouncing Off Clouds, Programmable Soda