Months before the release of “American Doll Posse,” Tori Amos’s ninth studio album, she described it as an opportunity to showcase her “warrior woman” persona. After years of radio-friendly singles with mature but easy-to-grasp lyrics, fans were more than ready for a return to the heavy and heady style of “From the Choirgirl Hotel” and “Boys for Pele.”
The 23-track album spans the political, the feminist, the personal, and the sensual as revealed by five “dolls” representative of the different roles played by women in American society. Although “American Doll Posse” is a concept album to the last, fans need not linger on the concept to enjoy it. The songs speak for themselves. Singles “Big Wheel” and “Bouncing Off Clouds” bring listeners back to Amos’s rock-and-roll days. Addictive and in your face, “Big Wheel” provides a sharp contrast to pensive and beautiful “Bouncing Off Clouds.” Both feature the edge largely absent from Amos’s last studio album, “The Beekeeper.
” It’s this defiant sincerity that makes “American Doll Posse” a bumpy but enjoyable ride.
Lyrically, Tori Amos has hit
a gold mine. Songs such as “Roosterspur Bridge” (“Somewhere down past Roosterspur Bridge/Perhaps just a trick of the light/I thought I heard the sweetest guitar/Was it a rock and roll Jesus?”) are among Amos’s richest lyrics to date. Profound, subtle, and gorgeous, they prove that motherhood has only served to mature her artistry.
Other top songs include “Velvet Revolution,” a political bombshell with a distinctly unique melody, and “Dark Side of the Sun,” a lyrical gemstone with a strong chorus. (“So how many young men have to lay down/Their life and their love of their woman/For some sick promise of a heaven?”) The running reference to religion recalls Amos’s confessional first album, “Little Earthquakes,” and in itself is a strong backlash to the political hypocrisy she seeks to criticize.
This album celebrates the strength of women in light of today’s destructive political policies. Though the emphasis is on the relationship between the woman and the world, songs such as “Dragon” and “Girl Disappearing” are a remarkable return to the personal, and provide politically apathetic listeners with more than one reason to enjoy this album. More than simply a jump onto the political bandwagon seeking to flood the entertainment industry, “American Doll Posse” is a snapshot
of the multifaceted woman of today.