this uncompromising, intelligent artist clearly hasn’t lost any of her passion for good music...
Kate Horstead

13:53 11th May 2009

Tori Amos is a bit like Marmite – it’s impossible not to feel something strongly towards her, be it positive or negative. Abnormally Attracted to Sin is as strange and unique as any Tori Amos album but in places it is, one suspects accidentally, more accessible than previous albums.

Album-opener Give is a surprising trip-hop number, leading into more typical story-telling Amos territory with second track Welcome to England. In contrast to both, Strong Black Vine could almost be contender for entry into the charts with its dancefloor-friendly melody. The beautiful Maybe California has that distinctive Amos tone that simultaneously depicts fragile vulnerability and world-weary cynicism. Words that could sound trite and unoriginal coming from other artists – “Will you choose fear or will you choose love?” (Flavor) - take on a new weight and feeling when bursting from her expansive lungs.

For the most part, the albums’ lyrics display Amos’ impenetrable depth and poetic talent and her vocal range is, as ever, breathtaking and haunting. The most notable problem with the album is its length, which at 18 tracks and minutes seems a little self-indulgent, and towards the end this leads the listener’s mind to wander, therefore potentially missing out on some of its strongest elements (tracks 14 and 16, Starling and Ophelia). There are several mediocre tracks in between that although not terrible, are far off the usual standard for Amos and could easily have been ditched or relegated to B-sides. However, you have to admire this lady’s strength in yet again ignoring convention and the rest of the world’s leap towards snippets of music easily stored on iPods by people with short attention spans.

Much of Amos’ material is centred around a quintessentially female experience of life and this album is no different. Angry, loving, wistful, fiercely independent, and veering between loud fearlessness and a calm energy, the album offers male and female listeners alike a snapshot into this very feminine character’s most intensely lived and imagined moments.

More carefully edited, Abnormally Attracted to Sin would have had the potential to be as life-defining as Little Earthquakes, but unfortunately it lets itself down with its seeming lack of direction and the splattering of a few more average numbers amidst the many gems. Despite this, there are some heart-gripping moments and this uncompromising, intelligent artist clearly hasn’t lost any of her passion for good music or her ability to make it.

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