Tori Amos returns with comfortably solid Native Invader

Native InvaderThere is no questioning Tori Amos' exceptional talent as a songwriter and musician. Her latest record, Native Invader provides yet more beguiling evidence of this fact. Her immensely consistent output - this is her 15th studio record - throws down the gauntlet for her to create something new, such high expectations of quality now set. While the album never really breaks any musical boundaries, it is nonetheless a roller-coaster of emotion blessed with a number of stand-out songs, and without doubt a beautiful piece of work.

The epic yet measured mood of the opener, "Reindeer King", sets the tone for the record magically. Rich piano chords crash around her mournful vocals, leaving you shivering in the cold imagery of her lyrics: "Grief it brings need the naked freeze caught in the frost, Numb unbearable thoughts your inner need fire not lost." In a particularly chilling moment several minutes into the track, the tension bubbles with a swelling distorted violin note, as she paints the story of the words in the surrounding music.

Onwards, the album fluctuates between the sweet and the sorrowful, with tinges of this epic tone set by the opener. Sometimes this variation happens even within songs. "Wings" features moments of Portishead-like mystery, both in the tingling electric guitar and Tori's vocal melodies, contrasted with the more homely, major melodies and gentle synth shimmering around them. Similarly, "Cloud Riders", one of the standout tracks on the album, combines a gorgeous vocal melody with darker guitar interludes.

The shift in pace is best felt between "Up the Creek" and "Breakaway". She picks up the pace on the former with frantic rhythmic guitar and minimalist percussion. Her signature rolling piano scales make an appearance before the song closes with electric guitar stabs. As the dust settles, the latter song, an affecting piano & voice number, emerges blinking into the light - truly spellbinding.

For the already converted, Native Invader is a comfortingly solid album of Tori at her best. For those new to her music and who love their music subtle and richly constructed, it is the perfect introduction to the varied dimensions of her eclectic sound.

Release: 8th September 2017, Deutsche Grammophon


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