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Tori Amos – Night of Hunters

Emily Bruce

Triangle

Even as a huge Tori Amos fan, I’ll admit I haven’t been the biggest admirer of her most recent output – even though her newer albums have some great songs on them, they haven’t compared to her earlier records at all for me. One of the biggest problems with them is that they have been overly long – it felt a bit like she hadn’t edited them enough, and without some of the tracks they would have flowed much better. I was rather excited when I heard about Night of Hunters, however – it’s Tori’s first album released on a classical label, and is entirely acoustic, featuring just the piano, a string quartet and some woodwind instruments. Also, at fourteen tracks, it isn’t too lengthy.

The album is a concept record documenting the demise of a relationship. Amos describes it as a “song cycle” from dusk till dawn, capturing twelve hours of the woman’s life once the man has left, following her “in her psychological process through the night”. There is more than one character involved, however; Tori’s daughter and niece both feature as guest singers (doing good jobs, too), playing the roles of Annabelle – a shape-shifter who acts as a voice of wisdom, guiding our narrator – and The Fire Muse, respectively. So, despite the stripped back music, Tori’s trademark complexity is certainly not gone.

Shattering Sea is a brilliantly powerful opener; it shifts from soft to aggressive in an instant, the strings really showing their strength, as Tori begins the album with the dramatic line “that is not my blood on the bedroom floor”. You can really hear the classical influences throughout the record, especially on Star Whisperer and Seven Sisters, the latter of which is entirely instrumental. Closer Carry is beautiful, and a fitting end to an emotional journey of an album: “you will not ever be forgotten by me”, Tori sings as a final farewell. The record is ultimately one of lessons learnt, and there’s a feeling of hope and acceptance as it finishes.

Night of Hunters is certainly an easier listen in comparison to Tori’s last few albums; it fits together much better as a piece, flowing and telling a story. Full of accomplished instrumentation, it’s a classical album with a refreshingly modern and creative spin. Repeated listens really benefit it as layers unfold, and this is without a doubt Tori’s best record of recent years.

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