Tori Amos - Gold Dust
What is it about pop musicians and their desire to work with orchestras? Recently we’ve seen everyone from George Michael and Sting touring with orchestras to Kylie Minogue’s upcoming string-embossed Abbey Road sessions. Tori Amos is certainly more qualified to work with strings 'n things than most pop artists, having gained childhood admission to the Peabody Conservatory of Music, and this new project is certainly no lame attempt to be taken seriously.
Resulting from live work with the Metropole orchestra (featured here), and her second album for classical label Deutsche Grammophon, Gold Dust is a career spanning re-working of a selection from her two decade back catalogue - with added flourishes - taking in everything from a Little Earthquakes b-side through to a cut from 2009’s Abnormally Attracted To Sin. In common with her previous compilation, Tales Of a Librarian, Gold Dust is about evolution, not revolution – the songs are augmented by new string arrangements, but far from reinvented.
The star of the show is an electrifying take on 'Cloud On My Tongue' in which the original’s “circles and circles” coda becomes hypnotic as the orchestra swirls around dramatically behind it. 1992 b-side 'Flying Dutchman' (always deserving of a more prominent airing) benefits from the addition of strings and woodwind. But it’s at its best when adding more than just a little colour to the original, as when the orchestra crashes in suddenly midway through 'Marianne' or the immediate orchestral rush of the truncated version of 'Yes, Anastasia' presented here. 'Flavor' is better without the electronic beats of the original, yet 'Precious Things' on the other hand is rendered tepid, the rawness of the original somewhat lost.
Gold Dust serves as a good reminder of the quality of Amos’ back catalogue. It’s far from essential but breathes new life into familiar works. While the novelty offered up by the added orchestration is sometimes slight, those who've followed her career over these past two decades will find much to please.