Tori Amos talks about how her new album is all about power — and how it is denied to gay people
For her 10th studio album, Tori Amos pulled out all the stops and genres. Recorded in Cornwall, England, the sumptuously produced "Abnormally Attracted to Sin" entails a generous 17 tracks running the gamut from catchy synth-soaked pop ("Curtain Call") to trip-hoppish torch song ("Strong Black Vine"), to guitar-soaked folk-rock ("Starling"), and vocally acrobatic ballad ("Police Me"), while Amos’ voice and arrangements (yes, including her BÃ¶sendorfer piano) are truly in top form.
A Methodist minister’s daughter, Amosexpressed frustration over California voters’ passing of Proposition 8 in an interview with the UK magazine Attitude. Here she follows up on that thought while also pondering which woman she would marry in an alternate reality.
Nokia Theatre, 1001 Performance Drive, Grand Prairie. July 24 at 8 p.m. $39.50â€“$49.50. Ticketmaster.com.
Is there a theme running through "Abnormally Attracted to Sin?" I think power is sort of a key here. Are you drawn to people who have power over you, are you attracted to that? You might be and don’t even realize at first that you’re drawn to people who want you to lose. Or for them to feel powerful you have to feel un-powerful. You can be involved in a collaboration or relationship and all of a sudden you have somebody who’s really not supportive in your life.
What’s the story behind "Maybe California?" That is about a woman who questions if jumping off a cliff isn’t the only answer at that point in her life. While traveling around I was noticing what certain mothers were hiding, keeping to themselves: grief. When people say there’s an economic crisis, I feel that’s just the tip of the iceberg because people’s lives have been torn apart. I found there were quite a few mothers that couldn’t fix it, couldn’t give the job back to the husband or get the kids through school, couldn’t make the dream come true. And were pushed to that point. So "Maybe California" came from that place.
You were disappointed by the passing of Prop 8 on the same day that Obama became president and said you don’t understand how Christians have an issue with gay rights. Here’s a quote: "In a perfect world you keep the Democrats out of your bank account and the Republicans out of your bedroom." Now we’re having to keep the Democrats out of our bedrooms, too. That’s my comment on Prop 8!
Yet all these other U.S. states are making same-sex marriage legal now. That’s right, and that’s because people are talking about it. I think a lot of people are not OK with this segregation. If you say to yourself, "I’m a Christian," then you have to have the compassion that another person has the right to choose, a consenting adult. If the U.S. Constitution is supposed to protect everybody it should protect gay people, too, or it isn’t for all men and all women. All men are created equal except…? But it didn’t say except. I’m sorry, but that’s why the Obama thing was this victory and yet within the victory there had to be another group of people subjugated. That made me think, why did there have to be a win-lose? Why does somebody else have to be made powerless while another group is made powerful? And that goes back to the key of the record — about power.
Hypothetically, who would be your ideal female soulmate and partner in a same-sex marriage? Hmm. God, it would be a combination probably. Could I think about that for a minute? I need to put that in my brain.
OK. Meanwhile, what cover versions are you performing live these days? Well, that could all be changing because the ’80s bug is getting me. I’ve just gotten interested in the ’80s. We played "Flashdance" last night. We had an ’80s dress up party. Because I’m in the middle of a European/U.K. promotion on the way to the U.S., and I had a stop in Cornwall for three days [with my 8-year-old daughter Natashya], doing interviews while she’s in school, but at night we have these little moments and last night was our "Flashdance" party and we had the best time. So I’m going to work up some songs from the last 30 songs to be in the lizard’s lounge, which will be a moment in the show. You never know — I might have to do something from "Flashdance!" "Maniac" or something!
Are you Facebooking or Twittering? Everybody knows I’m Twittering, but I hope you know the difference between when I’m [the one] Twittering because Chelsea and I Twitter together, so she gives you all the information about the Tori world, which most people know before I do. But when you’re hearing about food in Berlin, that’s me.
Time’s up. Which woman would you want to marry? I don’t know. Georgia O’Keefe. I like her work a lot. I always have. The woman-out-of-the-rock thing. To me she was part earth, and as she got older she took on this presence to me of the desert. So I feel like if you marry O’Keefe you’re marrying the desert. It’s very poetic. It’s more than the person herself.
Have you been to a gay marriage? Never — nobody’s invited me.
We’ve got to get you to one soon. Play something from "Flashdance."
CARMEN REECE: DIVA IN THE MIST
Detroit should rethink its industry image from autos to music. Those assembly lines would be perfect for today’s pop scene as today’s artists are carbon copies of last year’s models. One of the new 2009 versions is named Carmen Reece.
The 22-year old "singer-songwriter-pianist" (like Sarah Bareilles) has been thrust upon our dancing ears with one song mixed 4,286 times, give or take. In tried and true form, Reece exploits the gay clubs (like Lady Gaga) to prove that she’s this year’s goddess of the dance floor … at least until the next pretty young thing surfaces next year. But for now, it’s Reece (like Cascada) vying for fleeting fame — a one-hit wonder expecting to become Madonna.
When we live in a world where Britney is even more original than the up-and-comers, something in music is wrong. Reece’s bio doesn’t even tout her originality. Multi comparisons to Beyonce and Celine are embarrassing to read while listening to "Right Here" looped on her Web site in various states of remixery. Her vocal chops are fine enough but offer nothing that hasn’t been heard before and better (like Adele).
Perhaps it’s just easier to take another nouveau-diva’s advice when it comes to Reece and just dance.
Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. July 30 at 11:30 p.m.
DAVE KOZ: SAX AND WINE
Wine and music are prime tools of seduction. It’s a no-miss with a date as a nightcap after a romantic evening on the town. After a long day at work, it’s just as effective to sit back and relax and let the stupor seep in.
How handy is it that you can get both from Dave Koz?
The out saxophonist has become a one-man sensual seduction team with his light jazz and his KOZ brand wine. But what would happen if you popped in Koz’s greatest hits CD and took to a bottle of his wine? The greatest hit of all might be the one you take when you fall to the floor after downing the whole bottle. That’s probably the only way to make it through a Koz CD.
A few sips accompanying his first two instrumental tracks are apropos because you’ll get both the generic light jazz sound in "You Make Me Smile" and slightly more interesting fare with "All I See Is You." Your body should relax just enough to ingest the saccharine with the grape.
By the third track — a duet with Luther Vandross for "Can’t Let You Go"— graduating from sips to glugs is recommended. Continue this dosage on track 9, another duet with Chris Botti. These bookend the meat of the CD and begin your lightheaded adventure. High tolerance drinkers can break out a second bottle — they’ll need it.
The album might begin to sound good by now. You might even begin equating it to Davis’ "Bitches Brew" or Coltrane’s "Blue Train," which will indicate aural hallucination. If you make it to end of the bottle and the CD, pat yourself on the back. You’ve done what most people can’t: get through an entire Dave Koz album.
House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St. July 24 at 8:30 p.m. $20-$75. Houseofblues.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 24, 2009.