There's no middle ground when it comes to the music of Tori Amos, the red-haired fireball who plays the piano and belts out songs with the gusto of a modern-day Jerry Lee Lewis.
Among music aficionados, her style has made her as divisive as political candidates who inspire staunch red state/blue state divides.
Amos's factions have taken up their posts again with her most recent release, "Abnormally Attracted to Sin." The songstress is back to her prog/almost punk roots as she shares intimate tales of life and love. She hasn't returned to the fiercer sound of her 1992 breakout album, "Little Earthquakes," but that's probably because she has matured (she's now married with a daughter and living in England).
The songs on the new album explore Amos's usual fodder, including universal struggles with religion and internal demons. Yet her approach to the topics is less introspective than her past work. Consider "Maybe California," about a mother on the brink of suicide because "nothing is making sense anymore," or "Strong Black Vine," about how to "save you from that evil faith."
The result has given Amos a broader musical reach that will satisfy her core fans and beckon those less familiar with her work.
-- Nancy Dunham, Weekend (July 2009)