.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/a2217d825ce673ffdabe60f228fa0c3d05cc6a04.jpg Little Earthquakes

Tori Amos

Little Earthquakes

Atlantic
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
April 2, 1992

Newcomer Tori Amos's songs are smart, melodic and dramatic; the deeper you listen, the hotter they get. Amos shares common ground with artfolk songstresses like Kate Bush and Jane Siberry, but while they often deal in abstruse, poetic terms, Amos has a tendency to cut to the quick, to face facts, to call a rape a rape.

Little Earthquakes is an often pretty, subtly progressive song cycle that reflects darkly on sexual alienation and personal struggles. Aiming for a delicate balance between the earthy and the ethereal, Amos shifts from a whispering coyness to full-throated earnestness (overearnestness, at times) and a quivery vibrato-laden holler — akin to Siouxsie Sioux's.

From the outset, all is not roses. In the opening tune, "Crucify," Amos sings, "I've been looking for a savior in these dirty streets/Looking for a savior in between these dirty sheets." The difficulty of asserting one's own voice is the subject of "Silent All These Years." Rage often bubbles below the sensuous surface.

On the subject of sex, Amos is ambivalent and ultimately poignant. The teasing Kurt Weill-meets-Queen cabaret act of "Leather" sets up a marked contrast to the album's most chilling track, "Me and a Gun." After the denser production approaches on the rest of the album — with strings, creamy electric guitars and fanciful arrangements caressing her piano foundation — we hear the stark sound of her unadorned voice taking the role of a rape victim, who endures the attack while desperately rationalizing that "I haven't seen Barbados, so I must get out of this."

By the time the refrain in the closing title track comes around ("Give me life give me pain/Give me myself again"), we feel as though we've been through some peculiar therapy session, half-cleansed and half-stirred. That artful paradox is part of what makes Little Earthquakes a gripping debut.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Wake Up Everybody”

    John Legend and the Roots | 2010

    A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com