διαβάζω περιχαρής το δελτίο τύπου….
After nearly two decades writing and recording some of her generation’s most emotionally powerful music, Tori Amos will release her first seasonal album, Midwinter Graces, on November 10 via Universal Republic. A follow up to Tori’s critically acclaimed studio album, Abnormally Attracted to Sin, Midwinter Graces will find Tori reworking and expanding on classic carols as well as developing some of her very own seasonal tracks.
Midwinter Graces is an album that has been in the making for the past 40 years. Raised in the Baltimore area under the watchful eye of her Methodist minister father, Tori grew up playing holiday carols at Sunday services and Christmas Day celebrations in her father’s church. These were the songs that gave a young Tori her first taste of music, and now almost 40 years later Tori gets her own chance to reimagine the classics.
Midwinter Graces Tracklist:
What Child, Nowell
Star of Wonder
A Silent Night with You
Candle: Coventry Carol
Holly, Ivy, and Rose
Harps of Gold
Pink and Glitter
Our New Year
Δεν κρατιέμαι, μπαίνω να ακούσω δείγμα δουλειάς…
Το ότι έχω ένα θεματάκι με την Τοri είτε το ξέρεις, είτε το μαντεύεις ή σου το λέω τώρα. Πάντως όταν της συμβαίνει κάτι, θα σου το λέω κι από εδώ, έτσι γιατί είναι κομμάτι του ποιά είμαι, του τι με απασχολεί, του τι μαθαίνω, ακούω, συζητάω.
Αυτήν την φορά, από το σκοτάδι με έβγαλε η φίλη μου η Β. και πολύ πολύ την ευχαριστώ!! Χαμπάρι δεν είχα πάρει! Το ψάχνω λίγο ακόμη και πέφτω πάνω στην κριτική, που έχει πιάσει εντελώς το νόημα. Παραθέτω αμέσως πιο κάτω:
If your immediate thought upon seeing the cover of Midwinter Graces is that Tori Amos might finally have Ascended up her own creative rectum, relax, hold your fire. The photo may have been digitally manipulated to within an inch of all-encompassing soullessness but the heart has not been cut out of her chest, and this is nowhere near the animatronic disaster the sleeve would suggest. First things first: Midwinter Graces is not a Christmas album. It doesn’t mention Christmas once, at least not explicitly by name. Instead it’s a veneration of the winter solstice, which, in the Wiccan tradition, celebrates the rebirth of the Sun, not the birth of the Son, and signifies a return to light after the longest day of the year has elapsed. In a neat/unfortunate parallel, whereas Amos’s recent albums have seemed eternally lengthy, Midwinter Graces nips guilelessly in and out, never outstaying its welcome, and consequently leaves a rosy glow.
Amos has spent a lifetime exploring the perceived divisions between the sacred and the profane, the Christian and the Pagan, or to put it in her terms, “marrying the Marys”. On Midwinter Graces, she takes this preoccupation to its logical (and perhaps most literal) conclusion, stripping back carols commonly regarded as Christian to their pre-evangelised forms, and working in some naturalistically rooted observations of her own. She’s always been a master at the ‘stealth verse’ – remember ‘A Sorta Fairytale’? – so it’s great to hear her injecting a truly alternative perspective into a certifiable classic like ‘Emmanuel’. Indeed, none of the traditional numbers go unmarked by Amos’s red pen. She thinks nothing of editing a lyric or verse here and there to suit her thematic needs, and it’s this return to some of the fearlessness of old that impresses most. And, unlike some of her recent material, there’s never the sense that the message is taking precedent over the music. Only ‘Harps Of Gold’ feels forced in that respect, shoehorning in the chorus of ‘Angels We Have Heard On High’ among nondescript original verses and glossing over the gap with a radio-friendly melody she could have composed in her sleep.
Much more successful is her inventive concatenation of well known carols ‘What Child Is This?’ and ‘The First Noel’ into album opener ‘What Child, Nowell’ (the altered spelling supposedly an ancient artefact). Here she uses harpsichord, sleigh bells and a modest John Philip Shenale orchestral score to sweep seamlessly between the verses of one song to the chorus of the other, as if they were always meant to be a whole. It’s a trick she repeats, though taking a slightly more Burroughsian approach, on ‘Holly, Ivy & Rose’, which excises lyrics from various versions of ‘The Holly & The Ivy’ and 15th century carol ‘Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming’ and mixes them up. ‘Jeanette, Isabella’, an adaptation of a 16th century French carol, and ‘Star Of Wonder’ (aka ‘We Three Kings’) are substantially rewritten too, the latter being a brilliantly effective melodic and lyrical reinvention that owes much to Shenale’s Eastern-influenced string arrangement.
Seasonal albums are traditionally associated with strong family values, and it seems that solstice albums are no different (it’s not for nothing that Northern Europeans often call the solstice modrenacht, or Mother-Night). Not only does Amos duet with her niece Kelsey Dobyns on a slightly modified, medieval-tinged and brass-laden version of ‘Candle: Conventry Carol’, but her 9 year old daughter Natashya makes an unexpected cameo on ‘Holly, Ivy & Rose’. Amazingly, neither feels misjudged or amateurish. Clearly, Amos has taught her brood well. Of the Amos originals, the big band number ‘Pink & Glitter’ appears to dispense some motherly advice (“You’re surrounded by an army of two who adore you”) as an ode to letting little girls be little girls, while the comparatively unassuming but melodically pretty ‘Snow Angel’ lends a welcome touch of mystery and magic to the childhood experience of winter. Older members of the family also get a look in on the lovers’ ballad ‘A Silent Night With You’ and on the closing ‘Our New Year’, a bittersweet reflection on those who are sadly absent from the table come the festivities of December 31st, with more than a passing nod to Amos’s own brother Michael, similarly commemorated in ‘Toast’ from 2005’s The Beekeeper.
As accomplished as these Amos originals are, it’s her ‘Winter’s Carol’ that really gets the senses tingling. Here she mixes different strands of Pagan beliefs, illustrating an entanglement between the Holly King and the “summer queen” that, regardless of terminology, adheres to the usual changing of the seasons construct. But instead of the ceremonial battle often acted out in Pagan communities, Amos’s queen kisses goodbye to her wintry beau, their twice yearly evening of communion over, inevitably, all too soon. It’s an interesting twist, but that’s not all that makes the song remarkable. Over a tense backdrop of strings and tumbling piano, Amos alternates between a serenely collected vocal and an unhinged, witchy tone, making full use of the horizontal space in a way that will no doubt get the deluded Kate Bush copyist crowd braying louder than ever. Let them gnash their teeth; this is borderline genius.
Still, it can’t really be said that Midwinter Graces is a return to form for Amos. Not because it isn’t a great piece of work, but because her talent never really went away. It just got buried in filler. What this album does return to is a sense of cohesion, which, for an artist as idiosyncratic as Amos, is key to maintaining integrity. This being a festive release, it might not be enough to win back some of her eroding fanbase, but if Amos employs a similar approach to her next ‘proper’ studio album, that is, using a broad palette of instruments but not swamping the piano, the winter of their discontent could be over.
Για κάποια που τραγουδάει «recovering Christians,» (In the Springtime of His Voodoo) η Tori Amos δεν θα ήταν ποτέ η πρώτη τραγουδίστρια που θα σου ερχόταν στο μυαλό για κυκλοφορία χριστουγεννιάτικου άλμπουμ. Αλλά κατορθώνει να κάνει ακριβώς αυτό, με ένα άλμπουμ που τα έχει όλα, και κλασσικές χριστουγεννιάτικες επιτυχίες, ( «What Child, Nowell», «Star of Wonder») κάτω από το πρίσμα της Τοri φυσικά, και νέες συνθέσεις που συμπληρώνουν το track list με lounge-act-at-christmas διάθεση. Ο πρώτος της χριστουγεννιάτικος δίσκος, Midwinter Graces, κυκλοφόρησε μόλις αυτήν την εβδομάδα.
Αν έχεις βαρεθεί τα κάλαντα και τα ίδια και τα ίδια κάθε χριστούγεννα, αυτή είναι η χριστουγεννιάτικη σου σωτηρία, ίσως (αν είσαι και fan, κυρίως), γιατί η φωνή της προσθέτει μια νέα διάσταση στο χριστουγεννιάτικο μουσικό τοπίο.