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American Doll Posse
     

American Doll Posse

4.0 12
by Tori Amos
 

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Nine albums in and Tori Amos is working harder than ever. American Doll Posse, with its great title, 23 tracks, and five archetypal personalities (all of whom resonate with feminine gods in the Greek and Roman pantheons) is an exercise in both excess and obsession. For starters, each of these personalities has her own blog. All of them have a distinct look.

Overview

Nine albums in and Tori Amos is working harder than ever. American Doll Posse, with its great title, 23 tracks, and five archetypal personalities (all of whom resonate with feminine gods in the Greek and Roman pantheons) is an exercise in both excess and obsession. For starters, each of these personalities has her own blog. All of them have a distinct look. There's Pip with her streetwise standoff-ishness who sings about how her "Teenage Hustling" serves her in her adult life; she is also a very clever and intense "observer" (another important word for this record) of the political and surveillance situation in the U.S.; there's Clyde, a bit of a hippie who observes people and art from a perspective that is suspect of all male interpretations of the world (smart woman) and not the moment of encounter, but who that person is under the mask of it. Isabel is the glamorous photographer. If she exists anywhere but inside Amos, she is the fulfilled fantasy construct of both post-Freudian psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan and the father of Deconstruction theory Jacques Derrida. She watches the watcher watching. The surface reveals whatever is beneath it, and the layer underneath that. And then there's Santa -- not Claus necessarily -- but she looks closest for some perceived beauty (hers or her observational object's is the question) that is invisible to that person. She strips the moment away and gets right down to the task of discovering it: "Wait. Let's look closer.." Then of course, the voodoo priestess Amos herself appears in the center; she is politically pissed off and motivated ("Yo George," the first track on the set is a personal send-out to the leader of the free world in 2007 -- "I'm allergic to your policies") and a proud, aware, socially conscious mother and protector who cannot be fooled. "Big Wheel," the album's most rock & roll track, is an anthem that reveals her to be free of all bondage and a self-proclaimed ."..M-I-L-F don't you forget..." This outrageously long song cycle reveals these characters as individual "voices." Amos credits each of the five in her liners and plays piano and Rhodes behind them. Musically, American Doll Posse is no less ambitious, and all the better for it. Though 23 cuts can become a Tower of Babel in song, Amos has written some of the tightest, most cohesive and diverse songs of her career here. There's Amos singing "Big Wheel"; there are the squalling heavy metal guitars in "Teenage Hustling"; the pumping 4/4 bassline throb of Clyde's "Bouncing off Clouds," with its intricate melody and shimmering piano work and layered backing vocals; the seductive blues-rock swagger in Santa's "You Can Bring Your Dog" that transfers itself into a quirky faux-ragtime melody before it breaks itself wide open and splits these two soundworlds in half. It's a number that's so sick with desire it reduces its object to meat. The brief "Devils and Gods," sung by Isabel is a ballad that peels back the veil to reveal an essential truth with harmonically shimmering acoustic guitars and lithe piano. Pip and Santa reply in "Body and Soul" with its enormous sonic attack where all the instruments are turned up to ten and pack a wallop with a fuzzed-up Jon Evans' dirty bassline and staccato piano that promises salvation through ecstasy, not sermons or violence. Some of the best songs here are near the end, in Clyde's gorgeous ballad "Roosterspur Bridge," where Amos' piano guides the singer and Mac Aladdin's guitars whisper behind until Matt Chamberlain's spare kit work gives the words an urgency despite the languid pace. "Almost Rosey" (Isabel) is one of the very best mid-tempo autobiographical rock songs Amos has ever written. Its sense of dynamic, slippery rhythms and change-ups keep a constant groove and the listener holding on for every word with the swirling piano and syncopated drum work: "I once tried to comply/with an authority that would/Subsidize my wild side/but at this altar was sacrificed..." Pip's "Velvet Revolution" is a Spanish flavored poetic piano and guitar ballad in a narrative fashion that reflects Cesar Vallejo and the manifestos of Isabel Allende and a young Vaclav Havel. "Dark Side of the Sun," sung by Isabel, is a an anti-war song with its wailing lead guitars and the singer letting the grainy side of her voice underscore the lyrics with conviction. Pip's apocalyptic "Smokey Joe" is an entire cinematic drama with atmospheric walls of electronic noise and washes of guitar that compete with the contrapuntal voices in call and response execution. The final track, "Dragon," sung by Santa, is knotty, complex and lilting in some places and aggressive in others; it feels like it belongs somewhere else, but that's where the beauty lies. It's the place where healing happens in the heart of the eternal feminine. And it rings solidly true. In sum, these dress-up characters are, no matter Amos' ambitions, simply reflections of her often contradictory nature as both a conceptual artist and songwriter. She is playing dress-up and not copping to it. It's not so much that she doesn't pull it off, but these characters and their strange views of the world, femininity, and the ruinous masculine come down to two things: observation and perception, and neither are always what they seem. These have always been part of Amos' expressed aesthetic. Perhaps speaking these through the kaleidoscope of different personas made it easier to assemble such a vast collection of songs for one album, to exorcise the obsession or simply to give life to it through excess. Whatever the reason, American Doll Posse is exhaustive and exhausting, and contains some of the finest material Amos has offered on record. As a songwriter her reach is higher, and when she grasps the gown's tail of her Muse, her grasp is tighter, and sure. Her musical vision and production skills are almost astonishing in places. American Doll Posse is a work that has its problems due to its sprawling nature. And yet, it's perhaps because of that sprawl that it makes a real case for the overblown and indulgent in rock & roll again.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/01/2007
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0828768614020
catalogNumber:
86140
Rank:
84824

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Tori Amos   Primary Artist,Clavichord,Keyboards,Electric Piano,Vocals,Background Vocals,Mellotron,fender rhodes,Wurlitzer,Piano (Upright)
Matt Chamberlain   Percussion,Drums
Jon Evans   Bass
Nick Hitchens   Tuba,Euphonium
Tim Wild   Composite
Mac Aladdin   Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin,Electric Guitar,Ukulele,E-bow,Guitar (12 String Electric),Guitar (12 String Acoustic)
Matthew Elston   Strings
Edward Bale   Strings
Rosmary Banks   Strings
Holly Butler   Strings

Technical Credits

Tori Amos   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
John Philip Shenale   String Arrangements,Brass Arrangment,String Conductor,Brass Conductor
Mark Hawley   Engineer
Norman Moore   Art Direction
Ria Lewerke   Art Direction
Marcel VanLimbeek   Engineer
Karen Binns   Contributor
John Gardiner   Contributor
Cim Mahony   Contributor
Lesley Chilkes   Contributor
Debbie Thomas   Contributor
Glam Squad   Contributor
Dan Stockland   Contributor
Hayley West   Contributor

Customer Reviews

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American Doll Posse 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this album was disappointing, did not stay true to the music-genre of tori amos' other albums. The political lyrics intergrated with rock is not something I find pleasing to listen to. This album is the worst yet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
one of the worst cd's - she was on a gradual decline after scarlet walk ....................
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome tori album. it's different "it's actual rock!!!" but i love it anyway. 'teenage hustling' is a great track, it's gonna rock live, and i love the preppy, poppy, radio friendly 'bouncing off clouds.' 'secret spell' kinda reminds me of 'tear in your hand' from little earthquakes. Another good song is 'girl disapearing' kinda like 'jackie's strangth' w/ the strings, but different vocals. tori rocks!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just heard the full album, and it's Tori's most eclectic, exciting release in years. It's a mix between the tight production of Choirgirl and the sprawling anger of Pele. Tori may be channeling five imaginary characters here, but, more importantly, she's channeling David Bowie, Patti Smith, John Lennon, Stevie Nicks, Neil Young... If there is a statement to be found here, it's that music (be it rock, glam, prog, punk or honkeytonk) has done more for America than its own government. Imagine Strange Little Girls with a real pulse. That's why Posse is so good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The clips are fantastic! This is the most exciting release from Tori since The Choirgirl Hotel. I really think her concept behind it is pure brilliance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The song titles alone (and artwork) gets this an early 5 stars. Big Wheel is floating around out there on the internet too... A bit honky-tonk with some very cool syncopation and a few 'choice words'. Can't wait!
Guest More than 1 year ago
"American Doll Posse" feels like an apology from Tori to all us long-time fans after the overall letdown of "The Beekeeper". While not as "hardcore" as some of her earlier albums, such as "Little Earthquakes" and "Boys for Pele", "American Doll Posse" really does showcase the best of the now seasoned and refined Tori, a side of her songwriting and musical skill first truly displayed in her "Scarlet's Walk" album. "American Doll Posse" is an overall strong, beautifully balanced, and highly enjoyable album that should come to most Tori fans as a very welcome return to form.
Winnie_Doe More than 1 year ago
She's still got it and she proves it with ADP. This is a very good, albeit very long, album. It's tightly woven and well thought out, but not overthought, which i beileve is where she lost me with The Beekeeper. This album has restored my faith in her ability to shock and awe. This is an album that i am proud to own.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a landmark album for the music world. This album totally reminds me of the movie, Hedwig and the Angry Inch due to it's rock-operaesque styling (23 tracks!). From start to finish, Tori delivers songs dealing with political, social, and feminist issues that blend together into a sweeping soundscape that is magical. The 5 different "women" that make up this album set it apart from other musical ventures. "Santa, "Clyde", "Isabel", "Pip", & "Tori" make up the American Doll Posse. Overall, American Doll Posse is a classic. Nobody can ever pull something like this off again.
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