American singer and songwriter Tori Amos does not waste time when it comes to producing music. The musician has released 11 albums since the premiere of her first, Little Earthquakes, in 1992. She has been nominated for 10 Grammy Awards and has provided music for the scores of films such as “Great Expectations” and “Mission: Impossible II.”
On Tuesday, Amos released her 12th album, Night of Hunters, but provides a musical makeup different from her traditional style. The album is solely acoustic and is composed of her soft vocals accompanied by string and woodwind instruments.
The album is also considered a concept album, meaning the songs are united through thematic elements. For Night of Hunters, Amos attempted to express a story regarding a woman in a perishing relationship.
On four songs throughout the album, Amos’ daughter, Natasha Hawley, provides guest vocals. Throughout their four songs, the two singers discuss Amos’ theme: a dying relationship.
In “Cactus Practice,” a beautiful flute stands as a background score while Amos succumbs to the ideas and suggestions of Hawley, with a deep and powerful voice similar to that of Adele, on how to handle Amos’ crumbling relationship.
During “Job’s Coffin,” the lyrics question why women so easily surrender to the demands of men. “Since time why do we women/ Give ourselves away/ … Thinking somehow that will make him want to stay …”
Two songs popular on iTunes that continue to accentuate this theme include “Shattering Sea” and “Fearlessness.” In “Shattering Sea,” the vocals are accompanied by a powerful violin that really dominates the tune, adding an edgy attitude. The tone of the song matches the tense emotions in the lyrics, describing a man’s fury. “He gets his power from tide and wave/ … His tempest surged and angry flesh …”
“Fearlessness” continues to include the passionate violin sounds, but the violins are merged with the piano, which together, are quite harmonious. This song provides motivation for women who struggle with confidence and allow darkness into their lives. “He let in a dark companion/ That orbited between us/ His siren friends convinced him that love/ Was no match against the storms to come …”
Along with making Night of Hunters a concept album, Amos aimed to blend the music of composers from 400 years ago with present musical styles. Some artists she was influenced by included Robert Schumann and Claude Debussy. Although the influences from these composers are not recognizable for everyone, they add a unique and delightful aesthetic to the soundtrack.
One popular artist referenced is German composer Johann Sebastian Bach whose flute sonata is built upon in “Edge of Moon.” The song has a beautiful combination of the flute and piano in conjunction with Amos’ low-key vocals. A familiar Bach introduction is heard in “Seven Sisters,” influenced by his Prelude in C minor, a melody often heard on the piano.
Tori Amos certainly took a risk when producing Night of Hunters. With aims such as an album with a thematic concept through solely acoustic songs and influenced by historical composers, Amos was striving to make this soundtrack stand apart from the rest.
Fortunately for Amos, she manages to create an arrangement of music that is innovative and enticing. Although not every ear can appreciate her intentions, sophisticated music enthusiasts can appreciate what this album can offer.
4 out of 5 Stars