Track Record

REVIEW: Tori Amos’ Night of Hunters Is A Work In Process

So, can we talk about Tori Amos’ new album?

Having had a chance to listen to Night of Hunters in its entirety, I’m…well, honestly, I’m still processing. Let’s process together, shall we?

Back in May when the album was announced, I didn’t really bat an eye at the premise: a “21st century song cycle” inspired by classical themes. Sure. Whatever. It sounded like a concept album to me, familiar territory for Tori Amos fans. Maybe the fact that it was being released on a classical music label, Deutsche Grammophon, gave me pause, but as esoteric as she can get, Amos is still a pop musician. This was gonna be a pop album, right?

Nope. This is not a pop album.

I don’t just mean that it’s not going to get a lot of airplay or win any VMAs. And I don’t just mean that it’s a difficult work or that it may not appeal to a broader audience. No, this is something significantly different from a pop album. It’s a song cycle.

And, what exactly is a song cycle anyway?

Wikipedia?

“A song cycle is a group of songs designed to be performed in a sequence as a single entity. As a rule, all of the songs are by the same composer and often use words from the same poet or lyricist. Unification can be achieved by a narrative or a persona common to the songs…The unity of the cycle is often underlined by musical means…”

Ok. So it’s kinda like a concept album.

Amos has used narrative in her work before—most notably on 2002’s Scarlet’s Walk. On Night of Hunters, she’s woven a rather compact tale of a couple’s parting and the woman’s first night without her man.