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ALBUM REVIEW: Tori Amos, To Venus and Back

Arizona Daily Wildcat,
September 29, 1999


Tori Amos' fifth studio album, To Venus and Back, is yet another venture into the deeply disturbed mind that has created some of the most emotional, entrancing and important music of the 1990s.

Produced entirely by Amos herself, the new album is made up of two parts. The first contains new material composed by Amos and the rest consists of a live album recorded from her most recent and successful 1998 "Plugged" tour.

The aforementioned tour showcased a different style of Amos' music, backed by the very boisterous sounds of electric guitars, drums, etc. In the past, Amos seemed to place these powerful instruments to the side, instead letting audiences bask entirely in her amazing piano playing and vocal abilities, occasionally permitting a sole guitarist to provide some backing rhythm.

To Venus and Back embraces the "Plugged" sound, adding more depth and definition to Tori's unique style.

Songs such as "Bliss," also the album's first single, eerily vibrate with the deep sounds of a bass guitar and are kept tight by the skills of drummer Matt Chamberlin. Whereas these sounds were previously kept silent, they are now brought to the forefront, helping Amos' overall tone.

Of course, Amos' uniquely disturbing lyrics, accentuated by her beautiful voice, are those that require some recovery time after being listened to. Not one to shy away from dark and desolate subjects such as rape, incest and suicide, Amos once again provides an album that may be hard to swallow for some listeners.

The highlight of the double album however, is not the new material, but the live recordings, which are nothing less than amazing, capturing the life and soul that Amos pours into every performance.

-Barry McGuire

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