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Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes CD (album) cover


Tori Amos


Crossover Prog

3.70 | 101 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars After spending years as a bar-room piano player and a largely unsuccessful pop star in the group Y Kant Tori Read, Tori Amos exploded onto the music scene with her breathtaking solo debut, Little Earthquakes. A gut-wrenchingly beautiful observation from beginning to end, Tori clearly dumped her entire heart and soul into the recording of this masterful work of art. Little Earthquakes consists of twelve extremely personal, often narrative, songs that are shining examples of quirky and intelligent lyricism put to melancholic and seemingly simplistic compositions. Although this is clearly a singer-songwriter pop album, Tori Amos has much more to offer than your average musician in this crowded style - the songs are deceivingly complex, the structure of the compositions is slightly experimental, and of course the lyrics are absolutely top of the line. Little Earthquakes is a quirky, intelligent, and simply beautiful pop album from the early nineties' - an essential landmark in the history of rock and pop music without a doubt.

Little Earthquakes is a pretty eclectic album, but many of the songs are based on Tori's gentle vocals over soulful piano playing. In softer songs like "Winter", "Mother", and "Silent All These Years", the entire track consists only of piano, vocals, and sometimes strings - the fact that these songs are dynamic masterpieces simply shows that Tori Amos is a genius songwriter, in addition to being a fantastic singer and pianist. Songs like "Crucify", the bleak "Precious Things", the heavily experimental "Little Earthquakes", and the lovely "China" prove that she is one of the most gifted composers in pop music. The lyrics are exceptionally well-written and personal - just one listen to the a cappela 'Me and a Gun' proves that the lyrics here are every bit as serious as they are quirky. This song deals with her near-deadly rape occurrence by knife-point when she was 21. As one may imagine, this can be a difficult song to listen to; and I think that's exactly what Tori aimed at creating. While the rest of the album may not be quite as 'heavy' in terms of lyrical content, it's every bit as personal and captivating. I'm not the sort of person who typically pays much attention to lyrics, but Little Earthquakes is the sort of album where they're so perfect that it's hard to ignore.

While Tori's voice is often frail and gentle, it's shown multiple times throughout Little Earthquakes that she's a powerful and truly gifted vocalist. Her rather unique singing style could be described as an acquired taste, but I think the dynamics and raw beauty of her voice suits the music perfectly. It's tough to imagine a song like "Winter" or "Silent All These Years" sounding even nearly as good with any other singer. The production is actually surprisingly raw for a pop/rock album, but I think the earthy production does the piano playing and lush arrangements plenty of justice. Tori's vocals are perfectly placed in the mix, and I think the organic production gives the music an authentic and 'real' feeling.

Little Earthquakes contains a few weaker cuts like "Happy Phantom" and "Leather", but that's hardly enough to affect my enthusiasm for this fantastic album. Tori Amos established on her debut that she's a gifted and unique talent, and there are enough excellent tunes here for me to label it an essential masterpiece. It's definitely rare to come across a pop album this well-composed, intelligent, and experimental - Little Earthquakes is the sort of release that has the timeless and genre-transcending power to satisfy nearly everyone who enjoys 'good music'. While the two weaker tracks do stop me from awarding a completely perfect score, Little Earthquakes is still deserving of a 4.5 - 5 star rating. An absolutely essential example of sophisticated and beautiful pop/rock music.

J-Man | 5/5 |


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