To celebrate 20 years since the release of her first album, Tori Amos brings us Gold Dust, which is a collection of 14 songs from her back catalogue reworked with the help of the Metropole Orchestra – whom she performed a concert with in 2010, inspiring the album. She’s described the process of re-recording the tracks as giving them a “makeover”.
Tori has chosen a decent selection of her oeuvre – even including a b-side – however there’s the strange pick here and there; the forgettable minute-and-a-half Programmable Soda from 2007′s American Doll Posse, for example. Also, while her cover of the carol Star of Wonder – that originally appeared on her holiday album Midwinter Graces – sounds brilliant with strings, it’s a bit of an odd decision to include a Christmas song here (to me, it will always feel wrong listening to them any time other than December!).
Then there are the obvious choices such as Yes, Anastasia, which featured strings on it originally. With this song, however, the orchestra rather disappointingly detracts from the intensity of the original, by kicking in too early – it’s a shortened version, and it often sounds as though Tori’s rushing through it, so the ‘we’ll see how brave you are’ line doesn’t hit the listener in the way the first version does. Whereas the heavy strings reduce the power of that track though, on others they do the opposite, such as on Winter and Cloud On My Tongue, both of which become even more moving than usual. The strings combined with the spine-tingling piano on Precious Things are stunning, and the title track (originally from 2003′s Scarlet’s Walk), a song which never particularly appealed to me now becomes extremely affecting. Marianne is much more intense than it appears on 1996′s sparse Boys For Pele – although it is a favourite of mine, it became one over time and many listens; here, it is immediately captivating.
It’s certainly nice to hear a new take on old material – however, while some of the reworkings strengthen songs, others weaken them, and I do wish Tori had changed a few of the track selections. I can’t see Gold Dust appealing to anyone other than Tori’s fanbase, but overall it’s a lovely listen.