Music critic and author Norman Lebrecht interviewed Tori Amos about her new classical musical, The Light Princess. Even more interesting, his website features a Tori Amos playlist which matches up songs from her Night of the Hunters album with the original classical works by Chopin and other composers from which she sampled from. You can download the interview and stream the playlist at the links below…
Allison Crowe’s upcoming album, Heavy Graces, will feature two covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” and the video for the “Choral” version has just been released. The video sets Allison’s music to scenes from the classic Marlene Dietrich film, The Blue Angel. As much as I love Allison’s voice, I really couldn’t imagine any cover of “Famous Blue Raincoat” surpassing Cohen’s original or Tori Amos‘ beautiful piano rendition. Yet where Cohen took the song to a melancholy depth and Tori gave it a bittersweet wistfulness, Allison gives the song a new feeling of suspense with a slightly faster pace and choral embellishments. Her cover at times recalls the elegance of Joan Baez‘ operatic folk rendering. And, as always, Allison’s vocal is gorgeous, multi-faceted and full of emotion and grace. You can watch it below….
When I first discovered Allison’s music in 2005, it was through her covers of Tori Amos songs. Allison just posted her cover of Tori Amos’ “1,000 Oceans” to her ever-growing SoundCloud page and you can stream it below. As impressive as the cover is, it pales in comparison to Allison’s own music – such as the classic Allison Crowe mp3s I posted last week. In case you missed it, you can also hear her cover of “Hallelujah” in this post and, more importantly, download several new mp3s in my review of her new album, Newfoundland Vinyl.
When I reviewed Tori Amos’ new classical-inspired album, Night Of Hunters, I said: “I hope the powers that be at Deutsche Grammophon can convince Tori to record a purely classical album next time around.” My wish has been granted with the label’s release of an exquisite instrumental version of the album entitled Sin Palabras (Without Words).
Sin Palabras has all of the strengths of Night Of Hunters, yet none of the weaknesses that plagued that album’s vocal trickery and lyrical fantasy. As a result, even songs that I found irksome in their original form – such as “Cactus Practice,” which incorporates Chopin’s “Nocturne Op. 9 No. 1″ – sound absolutely lovely sans vocals.
This gorgeous instrumental version illuminates all of the intricacies and nuances of the arrangements. The brilliance of Tori’s piano playing, as well as that of her accompanying orchestra musicians, is put on full and stunning display.
Following is the track list for Sin Palabras along with the classical works sampled in each song:
1. Shattering Sea (Alkan: Song of the Madwoman on the Sea-Shore, Prelude op. 31 no. 8 )
2. SnowBlind (Granados: Añoranza – from 6 Pieces on Spanish Folksongs)
3. Battle of Trees (Satie: Gnossienne no. 1)
4. Fearlessness (Granados: Orientale from 12 Spanish Dances)
5. Cactus Practice (Chopin: Nocturne op. 9 no. 1)
6. Star Whisperer (Schubert: Andantino from Piano Sonata in A major D 959)
7. Job’s Coffin
8. Nautical Twilight (Mendelssohn: Venetian Boat Song from Songs Without Words op. 30)
9. Your Ghost (Schumann: Theme and Variations in E flat major WoO 24 from Ghost Variations)
10. Edge of the Moon (Bach: Siciliano from Flute Sonata BWV 1031)
11. The Chase (Mussorgsky: The Old Castle from Pictures at an Exhibition)
12. Night of Hunters (Scarlatti: Sonata in F minor, K.466 and the Gregorian Chant “Salva Regina”)
13. Seven Sisters (Bach: Prelude in C minor)
14. Carry (Debussy: The Girl with the Flaxen Hair, from Preludes I)
Whether you loved or hated Night of the Hunters, or experienced mixed feelings as I did, I highly recommend Sin Palabras. It’s one of the most beautiful recordings I’ve ever heard. So much so that I added it to my Top 25 Albums of 2011, which already included Night of the Hunters.
This year’s top album list pretty much assembled itself throughout the year. The top 4 in particular are albums I expect to continue to listening to over and over for years to come. Click on the album titles to read the full reviews, purchase the albums, and, in some cases, download mp3s…
“…combine catchy electro-pop with airy dream-pop….What sets The Good Natured’s songs apart is the occasional splash of exotic strings or thunderous, syncopated beats. I’m enjoying this album immensely.“
“…churns the all-female vocal ensemble’s signature Gothic choir sound with even more exotic instrumentation, faster tempos and fiercer wails….brimming with dark drama, intoxicating rhythms and haunting choral harmonies“
“…From the opening blast of harmonica through the finale, The Decemberists have woven layers of delicate instrumentation and poetic lyrics into even the most buoyant and infectious song on this album.“
“…truly a delight…airy pop-folk songs…”Appalachian Hills” is the album’s biggest stunner. The haunting folk ballad explores the beautiful landscape and horrific racism in the Shenandoah valley during and after the Civil War.“
“…marries the electro-pop of his recent releases with the eccentric troubadour style of his early albums, then takes things a step beyond with classical strings, big brass and a newfound lyrical optimism.“
“…Lead singer Genevieve Schatz’ voice is distinctively strong and pretty, and the band’s pop-rock songs are far more catchy and lyrically substantial than anything on the radio…one of those albums I like more with each listen.“
“…The poor kid must be sick of the comparisons, but what else can I say here? This little gem of an album sounds like Edith Piaf singing modern, slightly quirky, jazz and pop tunes. I adore it…There really are no weak tracks on the album, the intricacies and charm of the arrangments are a perfect match for Zaz’ superb and distinctive voice.“
“…grand in scope and beautifully complex, yet one of the most irresistibly accessible collections I’ve ever heard. This magnificent new song cycle finds Sarah taking pop, folk, rock and classical to places they’ve never been before.“
“…more of a American rock musical sound than the seminal Celtic punk band’s previous efforts…a lyrically brilliant and sonically solid effort inspired by the U.S. economic collapse – particularly its harsh effect on Detroit’s factory workers.“
“…gives these brilliant musicians some new opportunities to show off their substantial skills…”You Been Lyin’” is the best, most exciting collaboration any album ever had. The quaking duet with “Dallas gospel funk band” The Relatives sounds like The Staples Singers and George Clinton jamming with The Darkness.“
“…previously unreleased material by the late, great Eva Cassidy…composed entirely of acoustic versions of Eva’s best known recordings. Accompanied only by the soft strum of her guitar, Eva’s extraordinary voice is beautifully displayed in this exquisite collection.“
“…One of the more impressive releases of 2011 so far, Night of the Hunters was an ambitious undertaking for Tori Amos and one that, despite its weaknesses, can be called a success. It’s also a definite step in the right direction for the songstress and has won my loyalty back after a decade of disillusionment.“
“…Sin Palabras has all of the strengths of Night Of Hunters, yet none of the weaknesses…gorgeous instrumental version illuminates all of the intricacies and nuances of the arrangements. The brilliance of Tori’s piano playing, as well as that of her accompanying orchestra musicians, is put on full display.“
“…Heather’s unusually gorgeous voice has always been the driving force in her songs, but her intricate layering of high energy pop-rock instrumentation with haunting folk melodies continues to put her music into a category of its own.“
“…a brassed up brand of eerie indie-rock, melodic pop, delicate folk and the lightest hint of Zydeco…From her first wail in the mesmeric, churning, chill-producing opener, “Leila and the Orange Moon,” I knew I would love this album.“
“…a delightful nod to vintage Western swing, honky tonk and classic Nashville country…the whole album is a toe tappin’, hip shakin’ wonder. I expect it to be on my best of the year list come December.“
“…I don’t recall ever having been so profoundly moved by an album. The lyrics read like classic poetry, full of beautiful, nature-evoking imagery and immense sorrow…Sonya’s broken heart is deeply embedded in the marrow of this spectacular album, as her personal loss intertwines with metaphors depicting the loss of natural habitat and sanctuary for animals in the wild. Such personal and universal themes coupled with lush, intricate arrangements must surely destine It is so to become a folk classic.“