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Album Review: Tori Amos – Gold Dust

5 min read

As 2012 ushers in the 20th Anniversary of her debut album, Little Earthquakes, singer – songwriter and musical icon Tori Amos returns with a brand new record, a collection of some of the finer components of her phenomenal back catalogue.

Gold Dust marks a defining point in Tori Amos’ career 20 years after the release of that ground-breaking debut, one that managed to break down all barriers in the world of music from the lyrical content of what Amos centered in on through to the instrumentation that was held within the far from simple 10 track collection.

ToriAmosGoldDustIn the time since her debut the musician has received countless accolades for her work and sold millions of records while gaining a very passionate cult following along the way and who eagerly await each new release from their idol.

Amos seems more than willing to turn out new albums rather frequently these days. Her last album, Night of Hunters, is still sitting fairly warm on the shelves. Unwilling to put her unrivalled talent to one side she has this month outdone herself yet again with a compelling reunion with some of the musicians favorite pennings and offered to us the appropriately titled, Gold Dust.

While intricate songwriting seems to come so naturally to Amos who, as a classically trained pianist has carved a career out of her unique genre blending and boundary pushing lyricism, has decided that rather than providing us with another studio album she has opted on revisiting songs spanning her catalogue and rerecording them with the help of a one-of-a-kind orchestra to help retell some of her stories.

With Gold Dust Amos decided to recruit the most unique orchestra in the world to play by her side and deliver the 14 track collection, The Metropole Orchestra of the Netherlands, a hybrid orchestra and the largest full time ensemble of its kind in the world. The end product combines the sounds of a jazz big band with a symphony orchestra and successfully captures a new essence within each of the newly recorded gems featured here.

Amos pays tribute to most of her previous albums and also touches on a token B-side in the form of Flying Dutchmen from the singers 1992 single, China as well as a recording of Snowcherries from France, an inclusion on her 2003 Tales of a Librarian Greatest Hits package. Both are executed with delicate precision on Gold Dust and given a new lease of life alongside the Metropole Orchestra while Yes, Anastacia unfolds as the most dramatic and grandeur performance on the record with its haunting big band instrumentation giving the recording a truly cinematic dusting off.

Star of Wonder, the lead single from the musicians 2009 seasonal record Midwinter Graces, is given a nod finding a home in the center of the record while fan favourite Cloud on my Tongue from the singers sophomore Under The Pink release is stripped back and, aside from a modest yet rich string section within the chorus, is played out with little more than a signature Amos’ piano backdrop.

Little Earthquakes is the prominent contributor with 3 tracks nestling within the record. Precious Things, Silent All These Years and Winter all find their place on Gold Dust and the new recordings of the trio reveal a diverse and fresh quality to them, not too dissimilar to the original recording but just enough alteration has been attributed to allow all 3 to feel more up to date. Winter continues to be one of those Tori Amos songs that defies the standard cruelty of shelf life and the track shines on Gold Dust with Amos’ distinctive vocal inflections and emotional tone soaking through the track. Truly stunning!

Being an artist with such an enormous catalogue must make choosing what goes on the record all the more difficult. Not only do you need to take into consideration the expectations from fans who have been by your side from day one in terms of what they may want to hear on such a recording but you also need to be a little selfish and record those closest to your heart. After all, this is an album of reflection as well as recognition. We have already had a greatest hits package from Amos so something different is exactly what we need and let’s not forget that this is Tori Amos – an artist who is never one to repeat herself as I am sure anyone who has ever been to see her perform in concert will agree with.

Sure there will be the cynics out there who question whether a recording like Gold Dust is really necessary. Like I have already said, this recording is one of reflection for the singer and a gift to fans so the answer is: Absolutely. This is not a Greatest Hits package so really shouldn’t be confused as one, it is more a best of from the musician’s point of view and songs that are clearly near and dear to her and capture the songwriter at her most thorough and passionate. Each is given a new lease of life and we love the way each of the tracks on ‘Gold Dust’ sounds with the uniqueness that the Metropole Orchestra brings to the table.

Everyone, fan and critic alike, will have their own opinion of what should be featured on a record like this. Personally, I would have loved to have heard something from Amos’ The Beekeeper release or even to have been offered a double disc for such grand project to mark Amos’ time spent as a recording artist, however, the track listing we have been offered is a superb representation of Amos’ longevity and diversity as well as a hat-tipping moment to one of the greatest singer-songwriters of our time.

On Tori’s official website she states about the record: “Gold Dust is about celebrating over 20 years of all the conversations that have happened which inspired many of these songs and it’s a collection of new recordings of where they are now and who they have become”. That sentence pretty much sums up exactly what is contained within the track listing making up this new addition to Amos’ catalogue and no one tells a story better that Amos whose ability at playing out a dramatic story or guiding us through an engaging and poetic beauty seems to flow so effortlessly. Whether it is told through the persona of her many musical alter-egos or simply as Tori Amos, there are so many qualities to the multi-talented musician that make her so appealing to the masses and keeps her confidently on top as one of the most talented artists in history.

Buy ‘Tori Amos – Gold Dust’ from Amazon