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Tori Amos - Ocean to Ocean (Album Review)

Wednesday, 03 November 2021 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Desmond Murray

After all the past 18 months have thrown at us, Tori Amos has your back. Her most universally appealing album since the early 1990s, ‘Ocean to Ocean’ is a gracefully melodic, lush and emotionally regenerative work with the capacity to rejuvenate even the most beleaguered of souls.

Over the years, Amos has often crafted experimental records built around complex concepts, while following her faithful ‘Muses’ into all sorts of uncharted stylistic territories. Although that fierce artistic courage is laudable, and such efforts were executed with idiosyncratic panache, they weren’t always embraced by listeners who preferred her comparatively conventional albums to those that required time and dedication to understand.​  

In contrast, ‘Ocean to Ocean’ is exactly the kind of record that will bring fans of ‘Little Earthquakes’, ‘Under The Pink’ and ‘Scarlett’s Walk’ back to the fold.

From tackling and transcending unbearable loss and isolation to unresolved historic trauma, America’s turbulent political landscape and the fragile nature of existence, she’s concocted a stirring musical antidote that starts in the pessimistic dirt, where she found herself during the UK’s third lockdown, but ascends skywards thanks to its sense of optimism.

Speaking With Trees, with its delightful descending bounce and climactic cry, and the weightless delicacy Flowers Burn To Gold, process her mother’s passing in a way that mines comforting peace from unbearable sadness. Deep south meets Game Of Thrones sermon Devil’s Bane, meanwhile, empowers gaslit individuals and Metal Water Wood, which boasts glistening percussion, preaches adaptability in the face of misery. 

Realising that similar issues were being faced by people all over the planet, Amos has sagely maximised the songs’ healing properties by giving them suitable widespread appeal. Exhibiting a dreamy palette that could loosely be described as chamber pop with a primal  mystical folk quality, the record’s sweepingly atmospheric combo of piano, acoustic instrumentation and electronic touches will make listeners feel like they’re wandering through a fairytale forest where encroaching threats are swiftly bested by spiritual resilience.

Amos’s poetry references elemental touchstones throughout songs that are full of love and warmth. Whether it’s the wistful ambience of Swim To New York State, the peppy comfort blanket Spies, which offers a locomotive rhythm and nice nods to the Beatles, or the sultry tango flavours on Birthday Baby, there’s a directness to her wordplay that draws upon nature’s untarnished simplicity to reboot weary hearts.

What truly renders this album a seductive delight, though, is that it’s the most melodically instant record Amos has made in a long time. Every track could be a single, and yet that approach never feels calculated. For any songwriter looking to establish their own unique voice, while striving to craft meaningful music that touches the broadest possible audience without sacrificing their authenticity, ‘Ocean to Ocean’ is nothing short of a masterclass.

Tori Amos Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri March 11 2022 - LONDON London Palladium
Sat March 12 2022 - LONDON London Palladium
Mon March 14 2022 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Tue March 15 2022 - MANCHESTER O2 Apollo
Thu March 17 2022 - CORK Opera House
Fri March 18 2022 - DUBLIN Olympia Theatre

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