By 1998 Tori Amos was already established an artist who balanced both commercial success and critical praise. With her fourth album, From The Choirgirl Hotel, Amos dialed down the piano and dialed up the band, exploring a fuller sound that moved between electronic(a) beats, Beatle stomps and a slew of new sounds. In surrendering her confessional piano ballad comfort zone, a broader approach does reveal some cracks that left us scratching our heads both from a songwriting and production standpoint. Gone are the unmistakable hooks of "God" or "Crucify" while the vocals, now competing with a bigger sounds from the background players, get compressed and pushed up front to a dizzying degree. It's a frustrating episode for as much as we liked about the album, we found ourselves unable to connect with the material like expected.
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