Album review: "Night of Hunters"
A description of Tori Amos's latest album makes it sound as though the singer has fallen further down the rabbit hole of weirdness.
"Night of Hunters" is an orchestral concept album inspired by classical pieces of the past 400 years, and it features guest vocals by Amos's daughter, Natashya Hawley. If that weren't enough, the album tells the story of a woman's journey to reinvent herself after a breakup, with the help of a mythical creature named Annabelle.
Surprisingly, and despite the complex back story, "Night of Hunters" is a gorgeous album, highlighting the texture of Amos's distinctive voice and the musicality that first made her famous - her piano playing. In contrast to her more recent albums, piano is the central focus here, adding a haunting sense of suspense to the stunning "Battle of Trees" and rumbling beneath a string quartet on the Robert Schumann-inspired "Your Ghost."
Even the risky move of Hawley's vocals works well: Mother and daughter play off each other on the somber "Job's Coffin" and trade lines seamlessly on "The Chase." It's only when the concept gets pushed too far forward that it fails: The awkward lyrics of "Cactus Practice" break the song's mesmerizing tranquility. Overall, though, the album shimmers with a striking beauty - once a listener has digested and embraced the rather intricate concept.
--Catherine P. Lewis, Dec. 2, 2011