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In the June 3, 2007, issue of the Worcester Telegram, columnist/critic Craig Sermon took a gander at American Doll Posse.
Tori Amos gets psychological
Craig Semon Recordings
If you thought Tori Amos was a handful before, get a load of her in the guise of five facets of the female psyche on “American Doll Posse.”
Going back to the Greek pantheon for inspriation, Amos breaks down the five facets of the female persona as a modern-day reflection of Artemis (politically minded), Persephone (idealistic, despite being emotionally scarred), Athena (the warrior), Aphrodite (the sensualist) and a combination of Demeter and Dionysus (channeling both her masculine and maternal sides).
Equipped with limber fingers and frank language, the 43-year-old chanteuse pounds away at the keys of her trusty Bosendorfer piano, while obliterating the stereotypical restraints placed upon women living in a patriarchal world.
While most pop artists wrestle with inflated egos, Amos embraces her alter-egos and takes role-playing to a whole different level. With her five characters combining to make a complete, multifaceted über-woman, each persona comes with its own back story, emotional baggage, designer wardrobe and bad wig. Despite the fact that these five female archetypes sound, act and look a lot like Amos, the artist delivers a tour de force that is fierce, fiery and feminine.
Amos comes out swinging on the 85-second, Bush-bashing piano dirge “Yo George.” Unleashing her inner Rosie O’Donnell, a disillusioned Amos lashes out, “Is this just the madness of King George/Yo George/Well, you have the whole nation on all fours?” Ouch!
On the whiskey-drenched, female empowerment anthem “Big Wheel,” Amos warns that you shouldn’t go messing with a Southern girl. Good advice. Amos plays a self-sufficient, hot-to-trot mama. Honky-tonk piano playing, twangy, Southern-fried guitar licks and powder-keg drums heighten this strong testament that no woman needs to play second-fiddle to any man.
Amos is going to send you back to school on the lively rocker “Teenage Hustling.” Playing the “dirty girl,” Amos makes Madonna sound tame. Unapologetic and flaunting her wicked ways, the listener believes Amos’ claim that she has been surviving on her wits and sexual prowess.
A hooting and hollering Amos is her salacious best on sweaty bump and grind “You Can Bring Your Dog.” In a role that’s guaranteed to make her male fans hot under the collar, Amos plays a woman who wants sex with no strings attached.
Sounding on the brink of a nervous breakdown, Amos wrestles with bad body image and low self-esteem on the raw and riveting “Fat Slut.” Beating herself up rather than allowing anyone else to do it for her, Amos hasn’t taken the listener this uncomfortably close to the abuse since she recounted her real-life rape on “Me and a Gun.”
Amos envisions herself as a Palomino-riding warrior out to reclaim the sacred ground of the feminine spirit on “Girl Disappearing.” In the combined role of earth mother/feminist activist, a tremulous Amos conveys a sense of yearning to a time when females were worshipped and appreciated.
Industrial-strength piano playing and erotic poetry collide in the soul-affirming rocker “Body and Soul.” Amos envisions the female body as a temple with its own set of rules. She seductively snarls, “In my temple/Boy be warned/Violence doesn’t have a home/Now, well, ecstasy/That’s as pure as a woman’s gold.”
Amos sheds tears over the buckets of blood spilled on foreign soil on the anti-Iraqi war opus “Dark Side of the Sun.” Snarly guitars accent her harsh sentiment in the biting lines, “So how many young men have to lay down/Their life and their love of their woman/For some sick promise of a heaven/Lies go back now to the garden/Even the four horsemen say all bets are off.”
On the album’s closer, “Dragon” Amos subscribes to the notion that a woman’s nurturing love can heal all wounds, even if it’s a woman who caused the pain in the first place. Here, Amos certainly cures some of the ills caused by most females currently topping the charts.