Deutsche Grammophon / Mercury Classics
Did Tori Amos really need to re-imagine, with a string orchestra, a collection of songs already perfected on her 12 previous albums?
No more than she needed to make a concept album representing five different Tori Amos personalities (American Doll Posse), or a classical music album that uses only acoustic instruments and raises a toast to the great composers of the last 400 years (Night of Hunters), but she does it anyway. Why? Because Tori Amos is a constantly evolving Artist whose head is too full of ideas to restrict to 20 years of churning out album after album of autobiographical piano driven songs about a woman's search for faith, meaning, love, and strength... as much as many fans would love nothing more than another Little Earthquakes.
Enter Gold Dust: 14 songs spanning Amos' illustrious career (including four off of her 1992 debut, which the album also commemorates the 20th anniversary of) with the accompaniment of the Netherlands' Metropole Orchestra. The result is not a drastic remixing, but a sprinkling of spices that change the flavors of the songs ever so subtly. At times, the added spice is inspired, as with "Jackie's Strength" and "Marianne." Other times, it's nice, but not necessary ("Cloud On My Tongue," "Winter"), and sometimes it dulls in comparison with the original ("Precious Things").
"Silent All These Years," arguably one of the greatest moments of music ever to come out of the redhead's brain, is reworked in a way that makes the stark and gorgeous melody feel a little too clean -- a little too Broadway musical. It's nice to hear a new version, but I'll take the original any day of the week.
This album is, basically, for two types: the hardcore, must-have-every-release Tori Amos fan, and the unfamiliar newbie who needs a starting point for the vast Amos catalog. If you fall somewhere in-between, this album may feel a bit redundant. Still, even if the album isn't for everyone, Tori Amos should be applauded for constantly pushing herself into new avenues of artistic expression.