Precious Things: String Quartet Tribute to Tori Amos
Tori Amos does not appear on Precious Things; it is a tribute album that presents 13 instrumental versions of her songs performed by a string quartet. Violinists Pam Jacobson and Randy Clews, violist Tom Tally, cellist Steve Velez, and bassist Fred Charlton are joined by Los Angeles DJ Transient; the collection was produced, arranged, and conducted by Jim McMillen. The addition of Transient's synth washes and burbling electronic sound effects is the most unfortunate part of Precious Things -- the rattling of what sounds like a sampler clearing its throat tarnishes the otherwise charming lilt of "Caught a Lite Sneeze." Two versions of "Precious Things" appear here. The opening track is rather straightforward, but without Amos' vocals and a piano, the arrangement can't replicate the bruised emotion of the original. A similar take on the song closes the album, but it is muddled with more electronic noodling from Transient. The collection does include deft takes on "Crucify" and "Silent All These Years"; "Flying Dutchman" is an interesting inclusion, even if it's not a particularly successful version. Of note is the collection's artwork, which includes photos of dolls crafted by artist Pat Kochie, an Amos devotee who draws inspiration for his art from the famous songstress. Precious Things will undoubtedly appeal to Tori Amos' dedicated fans. But it also makes clear that Amos' songs need her piano as much as they do her voice.