Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
The concept of Tori Amos' last album, 2001's "Strange Little Girls," was straightforward: She reinterpreted a collection of songs written and performed by men to give them a female perspective. However, "Scarlet's Walk," her Epic debut (Oct. 29), is a multi-layered tale. It's about searching for the true roots of America alongside a journey of self-discovery. It's about the nation's reaction to Sept. 11, 2001. But perhaps most intriguingly, it's about a "soul map," as the singer/songwriter calls it, which is imprinted on each one of us and shows the route of the most defining moments of our lives.
Amos' maternal grandfather, who was raised by a woman who escaped the Trail of Tears, often told her stories about Native Americans during her childhood. "He would always talk to me about how people had a map, an invisible map that was etched in, that was part of who they were," Amos remembers. Years later, she "began to understand that certain places in people and events etch themselves into each of us differently, and that becomes in a sense, who we are, what we look like."
A college tour Amos did after Sept. 11 last year played a prominent role in the creation of "Scarlet." "I went on the road last year with different eyes and when the masks were down. That means people were telling me things in letters, at the stage door; things that you don't say when tomorrow's coming," she recalls. "Secrets that people were holding were coming out.
"People were asking some questions for the first time and seeing America for the first time as a living being," Amos continues. "The Native Americans always thought that and some people do feel that, but for some people it's an object. I watched people start to have this relationship with this woman called America."
A child prodigy who began playing music at age 2, Amos gained national attention 10 years ago with "Silent All These Years." The lead track from "Little Earthquakes" introduced her ethereal voice, confessional lyrics, and intense compositions driven by her piano -- an instrument she is immediately identified with, thanks to her hypnotizing live performances where she sits anything but still upon the piano bench.
Her artistry has yielded a total of eight Grammy Award nominations for her past seven albums, but "Scarlet's Walk" -- with the deep emotional pull of such songs as "Your Cloud," "I Can't See New York," the title track, and "Gold Dust" -- is her most cohesive and emotionally moving since her Atlantic solo debut.
A limited edition of "Scarlet's Walk" will contain a DVD of exclusive material, and the album is the key to Scarlet's Web, an online alternative world that will be brimming with interactive elements and updates from Amos when she returns to the road Nov. 7.
Excerpted from the Oct. 19, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.
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