When I think of the divas I discovered in the 90’s, Tori Amos is one of the first to come to mind. Her raw emotional singing and heart wrenching lyrics on her album Little Earthquakes shook me to my closeted core. Finally a diva who sang about a darker time and understood that everything wasn’t always cupcakes and kittens. More than a dozen albums later and I’m still looking forward to hearing what Tori has to sing about. After a three year hiatus, she’s back with a new album titled Native Invader.
Native Invader feels like two different Tori albums mashed into one. The songs “Reindeer King”, “Breakaway” and “Mary’s Eyes” are piano pieces while “Up The Creek” and “Benjamin” contain more instruments and new sounds. Where the two styles don’t gel well on the album, Tori has the ability to make them work on my favorite track, “Chocolate Song”. This song is just as luscious as the chocolate in the lyrics with it’s simplicity of the instrumentation taking turns with an upbeat catchy chorus. The deluxe version of Native Invader has two bonus tracks (“Upside Down 2” and “Russia”) which are ok songs but I can see why they didn’t make the original cut.
Tori’s albums have always been conceptual but her early albums were less structured. Since Scarlet’s Walk, Tori has been forcing the idea of the albums causing the music to take a back seat and not flow as it once did. Native Invader is no different steeping in the current political strife. Tori is at her best when she’s angry, healing or pushing the envelope but unfortunately there isn’t enough of that Tori on this album. In my gay opinion, Native Invader isn’t Tori’s worst album but it isn’t her best either.