Jackie Listens to: Tori Amos’ Little Earthquakes (1992)

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Speaking of Tori Amos, oh, how I love Tori Amos.  When I was in high school my best friend and my sister were both obsessed with her and I didn’t see what the big deal was until years later.  In high school I tended to be on the darker and more metal side of music and rarely branched out into other genres, almost anything with a piano was too “light and hokey.” Ah, the pitfalls of youth.  I discovered that Tori Amos’ work was more emotionally and musically complex than anything else I was listening to at the time, and by college I started really paying attention.  Most of her work has taken on a very personal slant for me since, especially her early work.

Little Earthquakes is not my favorite Tori Amos album (that’s Boys for Pele) but it is a good contender, which is quite a thing for a debut album.  The songs on this album are all solid, unique and emotional tracks and I now know them all inside out and backwards.  This whole album is full of masterful piano playing, angsty and passionate vocals, and timeless themes.  Notable tracks? I would say all of them are worth a listen, but ones that stand out especially to me are Winter, an icy, beautiful meditation on relationships, China, a love song about distance and yearning, the stripped-down Leather, raw, honest and sexual, and the eerie, emotional and triggering Me and a Gun, about rape.  Tori Amos pulls no punches in her subject matter or lyrics, and it makes for a terrific album (and career) full of honesty and pathos.

This is a must listen.  Just go do it, already.

Jackie Listens to: Kate Bush’s Lionheart (1978)

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Kate Bush has another album in my Top 25, so I wanted to hear all of her albums.  This is the first I’ve heard of Lionheart, and I have to say I am constantly impressed with her work, but didn’t love this album.

An old boyfriend introduced me to Kate Bush since I expressed interest in Tori Amos, and it is an apt comparison.  Kate Bush‘s raw emotion and musical chops shine through on everything she touches, much like Tori Amos, and that is certainly true on this album, but Lionheart doesn’t seem to hold together as well as some other Kate Bush albums I’ve heard.  I love Kate Bush so much and I feel like this just isn’t her best work possible, which you don’t and can’t get all the time.  So it goes.

Standout tracks? I liked the classical lilt on Oh England My Lionheart, and the slow, understated In the Warm Room, but that was about it.  It just didn’t have that many memorable moments for me.  Wow stood out for all the wrong reasons, and it’s repetitious chorus left me more annoyed than enchanted.

Kate Bush is great.  I love her voice and musicality, but I give this album a pass unless you are so into Kate Bush that you just need more after listening to her other work.  I would recommend Hounds of Love or The Kick Inside.