Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes
Record Label: Atlantic
Release Date: January 13, 1992
Both praised and dismissed for her idiosyncratic personality and feminist beliefs, Tori Amos has remained firmly within public consciousness with her commentary on the paradoxes of religion and life and all in between. Little Earthquakes marks the beginning of her career, and what a fabulous beginning it was.
Heralded as the fourth best album by a female artist of all time by Q magazine, Little Earthquakes is Amos’ most praised and well liked album to date. On the surface, it's even accessible - a word hardly bandied about when talking about the disappointment of religion, the dominant presence of man and a frank account of rape, which accounts for the majority of Little Earthquakes. Amos’ personal trauma and beliefs take precedence on the lyrical front, so intimate that they border on uncomfortable in the best possible way. When an artist manages to make it hard for the listener to listen to a song because of the subject matter, you know that you’ve found something good.
Opening with the enigmatic “Crucify,” a mid tempo ode to the dissatisfaction of organised religion, Amos proclaims “nothing I do is good enough for you.” This typical antipathy is a staple for any Tori Amos album, but is the only adverse mention of it here. Amos weaves a tale from childhood to current time with the first promoted single from the album, “Silent All These Years.” The stark nature of the lyrics is seen again here, with Amos asking “as years go by / will I choke on my tears / ‘till finally there is nothing left? / one more casualty.”
The definitive song of the album comes in the penultimate track, “Me and a Gun.” Initially the first single, which then was withdrawn in favour of the more radio friendly “Silent All These Years,” “Me and a Gun” is a lone vocal track, with no instrumental backing of any kind. Amos’ hauntingly soft vocals pervade through every sense, chilling in their hushed, shockingly honest account of rape. Amos describes both the event itself and how she dealt with the trauma, with an honesty that is so brutal and unflinching that it makes her stand apart from other artists and their false sentiments. While definitely not a song for everyone, the open willingness is to be admired.
Album highlights include the progressively frantic “Precious Things” and the gentle sway of “Tear in Your Hand,” making the whole album flow seamlessly from high point to high point. The final refrain of title track “Little Earthquakes” ends with Amos almost praying “give me life give me pain/give me myself again,” ends the cathartic rollercoaster that is Little Earthquakes, a stunning debut album from an equally stunning artist.