Tori Amos - Night Of Hunters
For her twelfth album, Tori Amos finds herself on classical label, Deutsche Grammophon, performing a song cycle which tells the story of a failing relationship over the course of the titular "night of hunters". It's not the first time that Amos has told a story in music; 2002's Scarlet's Walk recounted a journey across America, but where that record was still recognisably a pop record (with such fripperies as recognisable choruses) and not an out and out narrative, this is very much a classical album, commissioned as such and taking inspiration from composers including Stravisky and employing classical musicians, including the Polish string quartet Apollon Musagète, with whom she will tour the album later in the year.
Those with patience may find much to reward them here - this isn't the kind of album that you can have on in the background and hope to enjoy or understand, and at 72 minutes, something of an investment. We'd recommend your first play through be accompanied by the track-by-track notes by Tori that can be found online.
Closer inspection reveals that there is indeed a strange narrative that unfolds, involving the destruction, review and rebuilding of a relationship. An argument between the couple kicks things off - "That is not my blood on the bedroom floor / That is not the glass that I threw before", a dissection of the relationship both past and present, before finally reaching a conclusion with the lovers back together, permanently ("Your name is sung and tattooed now on my heart / Here I will carry you / Forever." - 'Carry'). It's almost a two-handed play with the half-therapist/half-animal guide of the character Annabel (sung by Tori's daughter) coming on the journey with the narrator as she explores the issues surrounding her relationship. Musically, it's a rich sonic tapestry, with strings and woodwind swelling underneath Tori's always virtuoso piano performances.
While it's become a cliche now for reviews to suggest that a new Tori Amos album is only for the faithful, it's never been more true than here. There's nothing remotely instant about Night ..., with the exception perhaps of the soaring chorus of 'Job's Coffin'. Where 2010's festive album was one of her most approachable to date, Night Of Hunters has reversed that trend. The unconverted will likely remain that way, yet study and consideration will unravel this album's own rewards for those prepared to do the work.