|Studio album by|
|Released||November 10, 2009|
|Recorded||Cornwall, United Kingdom|
|Tori Amos chronology|
|Singles from Midwinter Graces|
Midwinter Graces is the eleventh solo studio album by singer-songwriter Tori Amos released on November 10, 2009 (November 16, 2009 in the UK), through Universal Republic Records. It is the first seasonal album by Amos, and is also notable for marking her return to a more classical, stripped-down, baroque sound with various synths, string-instruments, the harpsichord and Amos's own signature Bösendorfer piano at center stage, once more.The album, like previous releases from Amos, is available in a single form CD or a Deluxe edition which includes 3 bonus tracks, a 20-page photo book, and a DVD containing an interview with Amos. The standard edition was not released in the US or Canada. Midwinter Graces became Amos's lowest-charting album on the Billboard 200, peaking at number 66.
An original song by Amos, "A Silent Night With You", was released as the promotional single from the album.
Midwinter Graces began as a suggestion by Doug Morris, chairman and chief executive officer of Universal Music Group , who, according to Amos, encouraged her to tackle and complete the project at a moment's notice, in March 2009. After a summer of writing original material and rearranging established hymns and carols for the album, Amos, while still on the road for her 2009 world tour, began recording. Portions of the album were recorded in her husband's recording studio, Martian Studios,in Cornwall, England, while other sessions were held in Studio City and Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Toronto. During interviews for the album, Amos spoke at length about making this album for both her father, a Methodist Priest, and for Morris, a liberal man of the Jewish faith.
In early November 2009, Amos gave an interview for Pride Source Magazine, in which she disclosed the primary reasoning behind the album.
"[My father] wanted me to do this," said Amos. "I think the fact that I didn’t write 'She’s a Hussy, Merry Christmas' will make everybody really happy. There’s no mention of Satan or dancing with Satan or anything like that. There’s nothing disrespectful on this record; it’s really beautiful."
"Doug looked at me," continued Amos, "it was March – and he said, 'I'm 70, and I want you to do this. You can do this. You’ve been doing this your whole life.' He inspired me. He’s been able to have these conversations with me since the mid ’80s. He pushed me to start writing Little Earthquakes , so he’s been in my life for so long. (Before July of last year), I hadn’t seen him for 14 years. And even though he’s 70, he’s as sharp as he ever was.
"He challenges me, and he couldn’t accept that I couldn’t achieve it. He said, 'You can do this. If you don’t have something to do, you’ll lose your mind.' So I thought about it, and one thing led to another."
In another interview, Amos explained, "[He] said to me in March when I was visiting him in New York, 'I’ve always wanted to know what you would do with a seasonal album. You’re a minister’s daughter so you grew up with this stuff, but you’re also a feminist.' A lot of this music was written when things were really puritanical and women didn’t have any rights, and so there isn’t a lot of embracing of the feminine except with the Virgin Mary, if that makes any sense. Because he and I were talking about music that goes back, a more pagan style of music where there seems to be a place where goddesses were honoured if you go back into antiquity. And he said, 'I’d really like to see you have a perspective on the carols and write some of your own.'"
"I left him and ended up in Florida and it was 100 degrees and Tash came in running in a bikini saying, 'Are you playing Christmas music, mummy?' And I said, 'Yeah, I think I am.' (Laughs)."
Following the personal struggles with sin, power, faith and "being a wife, mother and woman" Amos explored on Abnormally Attracted to Sin , she found comfort in immersing herself in the old carols and hymns she sang and played during her youth. When asked how she followed an album "about damnation" with an album embracing spirituality Amos replied, "“You think, let’s go to church.”
"I’ve been writing it since I was a little girl," exclaimed Amos during an interview with The Advocate in promotion for the album. "[A] little girl, in church."
Amos, who has struggled with and fought her religious upbringing, both through her music and with her own mosaic set of beliefs, approached the prospect of doing a holiday album, or seasonal record, from the perspective of someone who was struggling to gain a deep and enriching spirituality not necessarily tied to a set of dogmatic beliefs: "I felt that as a minister’s daughter I could open up the circle to all those people who might not want to embrace Christianity, but have a spiritual feeling about the time.
"The record contains a lot of story and beauty, and it does transcend some of the shame that gets attached to some of the music even during the season," noted Amos. – what really is that? It's valuing whom you have in your life, the relationships you’ve built. It’s not just about success – or it just isn’t all your material possessions anymore – it’s how you live your life, and that’s all included in the music."There's a side to the record when you listen to it that talks about what is the gold
When asked why she chose to have her daughter, Natashya Hawley, sing on the song "Holly, Ivy and Rose", Amos took the opportunity to draw attention to her whole family's involvement in the piece:
"It just sort of happened,"said Amos. "It started with Kels, Tash’s older cousin. Kels has been singing for years and is in performing arts school in Boston. She has a really big instrument. I thought we had to do something together that works. ‘Candle: Coventry Carol’ in itself is an ancient song, and I thought it would lend itself to that. And then Tash was thinking she wanted to do a bawdy song. And I said no. She wanted to do a bawdy British schoolboy read on a carol. And I said, “no, we’re not doing that, we’re not shocking grandma”. I came up with this idea of ‘Holly, Ivy and Rose’ and she really took to that idea. So in the end both of them are there. And I thought that was important because we all sing together." "There’s a whole family representation going on. And in the artwork, my nephew [Casey Dobyns] is a model in New York, and he plays the angel [on the cover of the album]. So the next generation is represented."
Amos' brother died in a car crash in 2005 and it is widely believed[ by whom? ] that the song that closes the album, Our New Year, deals with her own thoughts and feelings behind his tragic demise. However, when asked, Amos chose to keep the meaning of the song private, "I think at this time of year you think of people that might not be in your life anymore or who’ve left the planet. I get really nostalgic at Christmas, and memories of other times with other people who you might not have heard from in a long time can cross your mind." Finally, when asked pointedly if she had anyone in mind when writing the song, Amos responded definitively, "I did. But, we’ll leave it there." "People get nostalgic and you have to acknowledge that there are people that aren’t with you anymore, so there’s a song that does that. But," Amos insisted, "for the most part, for a Tori record, it’s pretty upbeat."
In regards to the album as a whole, Amos surmised, "I would say that it embraces the rebirth of light, but light means knowledge, light means consciousness. Everybody can attain that and have that in their life. Consider the idea that it’s inner God. It’s in every child that’s born; every child carries this ability within them. And I like that sentiment."
In an interview in which she discussed the process behind recording the album, Amos disclosed,"We ended up doing basic tracks at Martian which is my husband’s studio in England, and then we started realising that we needed to record on days off all through the States, and we would record almost every day we got off in America, and then came back to mix it in England at Martian."
Due to Doug Morris' request being on such short notice, Amos found herself writing and recording the album on the road while on her 2009 world tour in support of Abnormally Attracted to Sin . Recording sessions were held in Los Angeles , Chicago , New York City , Toronto and in Cornwall, England at various points during 2009.
|Drowned in Sound||(6/10)|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|
Upon its release, reviews of the album were mostly positive and enthusiastic. On Metacritic, it was given a score of 68 out of 100 based on 10 "generally favorable reviews".
Independent music magazine, American Songwriter , called the album "Dark, piano-driven [and] spectacularly unique", crediting Amos with offering up something "gothic, inspired and winter-y."Billboard noted, "Amos reaches deep into the world of carols for ancient and less obvious fare that she subsequently recasts on string-laden songs," praising the album, finally, as "a typically provocative-in the best possible way-entry in the yuletide canon." The New York Times noted, "Gorgeously recorded and impeccably produced, [it's an album that] dwells in hymn-like serenity and diaphonous wonder." The London Evening Standard also considered the album a success, stating, "[Amos] fills [this album] with harpsichord and subdued strings as well as her crisp, icicle voice. There's an ancient sound to [many of the] tracks...and again, a deliberate avoidance of anything cheery enough to be played over the Asda tannoy." The Guardian , which gave the album 4/5 stars, noted enthusiastically, "Centre stage is given to her voice and the simple arrangements," adding, "Amos sounds so tranquil she could almost be floating, but the stateliness of the orchestral backing keeps the songs grounded. You'd never know this was recorded [during one] summer, so vividly does it evoke crunching snow and frosty nights." They summarized, "Accordingly, it's her most touching album in years." BBC Music exclaimed, "'Midwinter Graces' has an appealing skip in its step... When it slows, it can do so with an understated elegance that Amos has only sporadically summoned during the 00s." The Digital Fix called it "perhaps the most straightforward album, both musically and lyrically that [Amos] has ever produced." England based internet-magazine P. Viktor rated the album 4.5/5, calling it a "brilliant addition to the Tori canon, and a shining example of what a Christmas album should be," stamping it, finally, as "one of her most accomplished albums this decade," while Mother Jones said, "Amos has crafted a collection of covers and originals filled with whimsy and melancholy—the musical equivalent of spiked eggnog."
London newspaper The Independent gave the album two differing reviews. The first review was mixed, giving the album 3/5 stars and criticizing some of the song arrangements and production choices, though it did say, "The pluses outweigh the minuses [on this album], with further highlights coming courtesy of Amos' own 'Winter's Carol' and 'A Silent Night with You' – the former blessed with stately, hypnotic grace, while the latter's undulating melody evokes the warmth of a reverie triggered by seasonal radio fare." The second review of the album, although unstarred, was positive, stating, "[This album] flits back and forth between traditional yuletide tunes and Amos' own compositions, but the former are riddled with her own lyrical addenda, and the latter are heavy with references to carols, invariably twisted to secular – and subtly sexual – ends." "Stylistically," they continued, "with all the tootling flutes, arpeggiating harpsichords and sonorous electric violins, it's reminiscent of folk-rock bands circa the cusp of the 1970s." They also noted, "Even when she is singing a "straight" rendition of a Christmas chestnut, there's always an underlying feeling that every syllable is laden with intrigue and layered with hidden meaning." They concluded, "For a festive album with a difference, it's time to vote Tori [Amos]."
Drowned in Sound observed, "Fans of her earlier work will delight in the more direct, piano-driven melodies and orchestral arrangements that dominate the album, as well as the welcomed return of the long neglected harpsichord on several tracks,"A mixed review by The Skinny called the album "moderately successful," awarding it 3/5 stars. Slant Magazine gave the album 3/5 stars, citing Winter's Carol, a song from and preview of Amos' upcoming musical adaptation of George MacDonald's The Light Princess , as the standout track: "The song's strong melody and arrangement are reminiscent of something from Under the Pink , bolstering a pagan yarn about the passing of the seasons." On the album as a whole, Slant concluded, "it's an ironic, pleasantly competent oddity." Consequence of Sound gave it four stars out of five and called it "a pleasant and often gorgeous effort," and Internet magazine, PopMatters, cited the album as "Amos’ best work in years." AllMusic was not impressed, however, giving it two-and-a-half stars out of five and stating, "Thanks to some familiar melodies, it can sometimes seem seasonally appropriate, but it always seems purely Tori, who has somehow managed to deliver an easy listening version of all her signatures in one tidy, not so-Christmasy, package."
The Huffington Post concluded, "Tori Amos’ beautiful vocals and recordings range between visions of an orphan looking at delicacies through frosty restaurant windows to dark stories from a worldly soul who’s seen too many mirthless seasons pass. In either case, whether she’s turning around standard carols or adding her own titles to the secular Christmas catalog, Amos is so at home in this wintry environment, she may want to consider permanently keeping Spring at bay."Washington Square News gave the album three-and-a-half out of five stars and said that it "won't be your favorite Tori Amos album, but it will help rekindle the warmth of the excessively commercialized (and Barry Manilow-ified) holiday genre."
Promotion for the album began early. On November 6, 2009, the weekend before its release, Amos offered up an exclusive full-preview/download of the album via E! Onlineand IMEEM. On November 18, 2009 a video for the song "Pink and Glitter", with Amos performing solo, premiered on yahoo.com, while a video for the song "A Silent Night With You", also performed solo by Amos, premiered on Spinner.com on November 30, 2009. On December 9, 2009 Amos also offered up two more official videos of solo-performances - "Star of Wonder" and "Jeanette, Isabella" - via social-networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. On December 18, 2009, ABC's Nightline did a short piece on Amos, focusing on her musical inspirations and her unique relationship with the piano.
"A Silent Night With You" was the first officially released single for Midwinter Graces. The single was released for digital download in the UK on November 29, 2009. Along with the aforementioned track, the single-release contains acoustic versions of the songs "Pink and Glitter" and "Jeanette, Isabella". To date, it has not been released in the US.
During promotion for the album Amos made a string of public and private appearances. She was usually accompanied by her Bösendorfer and a keyboard, switching to various settings throughout her performances.
Amos started off with a special one-off show at The Jazz Cafe in London on December 2, 2009 in promotion for the album.Entry to the concert required a wristband handed out at the HMV store at 150 Oxford Street starting at 8:00 AM on the day of the performance. An estimated 400 people waited outside in the rain for a chance to see Amos perform. The free show was solo-based, with Amos accompanied only by her piano. On December 8, 2009, Amos held a private invitation-only set in which a hundred or so music insiders and personnel gathered at Spin Magazine's office headquarters as part of their SPINHouse Live series. On December 9, 2009 WNYC, due to popular demand, moved their show to the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space and dedicated its one-hour show to a special concert by Amos, followed by an interview. On December 11, 2009 at 3:00pm Amos gave a free live concert via Livestream, followed by an interview, both of which were watched by over 4,000 visitors.
All songs are Traditional, except where noted.
|1.||"What Child, Nowell"||3:45|
|2.||"Star of Wonder" (John Henry Hopkins Jr.)||3:50|
|3.||"A Silent Night With You" (Tori Amos)||3:22|
|4.||"Candle: Coventry Carol"||3:18|
|5.||"Holly, Ivy, and Rose"||4:44|
|6.||"Harps of Gold"||3:10|
|7.||"Snow Angel" (Tori Amos)||3:43|
|9.||"Pink and Glitter" (Tori Amos)||4:57|
|11.||"Winter's Carol" (Tori Amos)||5:19|
|12.||"Our New Year" (Tori Amos)||4:13|
|13.||"Comfort and Joy"||3:56|
|14.||"Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht (Silent Night, Holy Night)" (Josef Mohr / Franz Xaver Gruber / John Freeman Young)||3:39|
|15.||"Good King Wenceslas"||5:33|
|US Billboard 200||66|
|US Billboard Top Rock Albums||23|
|US Billboard Top Holiday Albums||9|
|US Billboard Top Alternative Albums||16|
|Australian Albums Chart||152|
|Dutch Albums Chart||99|
|French Albums Chart||133|
|Polish Albums Chart||40|
|UK Albums Chart||97|
Myra Ellen "Tori" Amos is an American singer-songwriter and pianist. She is a classically trained musician with a mezzo-soprano vocal range. Having already begun composing instrumental pieces on piano, Amos won a full scholarship to the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University at the age of five, the youngest person ever to have been admitted. She had to leave at the age of 11 when her scholarship was discontinued for what Rolling Stone described as "musical insubordination". Amos was the lead singer of the short-lived 1980s pop group Y Kant Tori Read before achieving her breakthrough as a solo artist in the early 1990s. Her songs focus on a broad range of topics, including sexuality, feminism, politics, and religion.
Boys for Pele is the third studio album by American singer and songwriter Tori Amos. Preceded by the first single, "Caught a Lite Sneeze", by three weeks, the album was released on January 22, 1996, in the United Kingdom, on January 23 in the United States, and on January 29 in Australia. Despite the album being Amos's least accessible radio material to date, Boys for Pele debuted at number two on both the US Billboard 200 and the UK Albums Chart, making it her biggest simultaneous transatlantic debut, her first Billboard top 10 debut, and the highest-charting US debut of her career to date.
Y Kant Tori Read is the debut studio album by American synth-pop band of the same name, fronted by then-unknown singer and songwriter Tori Amos. It released in 1988 by Atlantic Records.
"Famous Blue Raincoat" is a song by Leonard Cohen. It is the sixth track on his third album, Songs of Love and Hate, released in 1971. The song is written in the form of a letter. The lyric tells the story of a love triangle among the speaker, a woman named Jane, and the male addressee, who is identified only briefly as "my brother, my killer."
"A Sorta Fairytale" is a song written and performed by singer-songwriter Tori Amos. It was released as the first single from her 2002 album Scarlet's Walk. The song reached #14 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart, and #1 on the Triple A chart. The song has since been featured in episodes of the television shows Nip/Tuck and The L Word. There are three commercially released versions of the song: the album version (5:30), the 101 Mix (4:00) and the original single version (4:01). It was released as a CD single (UK/Canada) with "Operation Peter Pan" as the B-side, and as a DVD single (US) with the music video, co-starring Adrien Brody.
"Caroline, No" is a song by American musician Brian Wilson that was released as his debut solo record on March 7, 1966. Written with Tony Asher, the lyrics describe a disillusioned man who reflects on his aged, former love interest and the loss of her innocence. Musically, it is distinguished for its jazz chords and unusual combination of instruments, including bass flutes, 12-string electric guitar, and muted harpsichord. It later appeared as the closing track on the Beach Boys' album Pet Sounds.
"Good Enough" is a song by American rock band Evanescence. It was released in 2007 as the fourth and final single from their second studio album, The Open Door. The song was written by lead vocalist Amy Lee and produced by Dave Fortman. According to Lee it was written for her long-time friend and future husband, Josh Hartzler. It was placed as the last track on the album to symbolize a new beginning for the band. According to Lee, "Good Enough" was written for the soundtrack of the movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but was not included. The producers of Narnia rebutted her claim, stating that no Evanescence music had been planned for inclusion in the soundtrack.
Tori Amos is an American pianist and singer-songwriter whose musical career began in 1980, at the age of seventeen, when she and her brother co-wrote the song "Baltimore". The song was selected as the winning song in a contest for the Baltimore Orioles and was recorded and pressed locally as a 7" single. From 1984 to 1989, Amos fronted the synth-pop band Y Kant Tori Read, which released one self-titled album with Atlantic Records in 1988 before breaking up. Shortly thereafter, Amos began writing and recording material that would serve as the debut of her solo career. Still signed with Atlantic, and its UK counterpart East West, Amos' initial solo material was rejected by the label in 1990. Under the guidance of co-producers Eric Rosse, Davitt Sigerson and Ian Stanley, a second version of the album was created and accepted by the label the following year.
"Spark" is a song by Tori Amos, released as the first single from her 1998 album From the Choirgirl Hotel.
Abnormally Attracted to Sin is the tenth solo studio album by American singer-songwriter Tori Amos, released 19 May 2009, in standard and limited CD/DVD edition. The album debuted on Billboard 200 at no. 9, giving Amos her seventh Top 10 album in the US. Unlike Amos' previous releases since 2000, which drew upon various external sources such as feminism, religion and politics, the album is considered a mainly personal album.
"Welcome to England" is a song by American singer and songwriter Tori Amos, appearing on the album Abnormally Attracted to Sin (2009). It was released as the lead digital single from the studio album on April 14, 2009 by Universal Motown Republic Group, which also marks as her first single released from the label. Written and produced by Amos herself, just like the rest of the album, the song was recorded at her husband's studio in England, Martian Studios.
"Raspberry Swirl" is a song written and performed by Tori Amos. It was released as the second single from her 1998 album From the Choirgirl Hotel in Germany and Australia, and as the third and final single in North America and the UK. In the United States it was released as a double A-side single with "Cruel", off the same album. In Germany, Australia and the UK it was released as its own single. Two variations of an identical 12" vinyl promotional release were issued in the U.K.
Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas is a Christmas album recorded by American singer-composer Mary Chapin Carpenter. The album was released on September 30, 2008, on Zoë Records and was produced by Carpenter and John Jennings. The release was Carpenter's second album released under the Zoë record label and her first album of holiday-themed music.
"Taxi Ride" is a song by American recording artist Tori Amos from her seventh studio album Scarlet's Walk (2002). The song was released as the album's second single in January 2003. It was written, composed and produced by Amos. The song is a folk pop track, which features instrumentation of electric guitars, drums, bongos, and acoustic guitar. The track was her second offering after departing from Atlantic Records and signed with Epic Records.
"Glory of the 80's" is a song by American singer-songwriter Tori Amos. It is the fourth track on Amos' 1999 album To Venus and Back. It was issued as the first single from the album in Europe and Australasia. Part one of the single was released in Australia on October 11, 1999, and both parts were released a month later in Europe and the UK on November 1, 1999. The song reached #46 on the UK singles chart, having the lowest debut since her 1994 single God when both parts of the single were recalled early for a misprint in the credits. In Australia, the single peaked at #81 on the ARIA singles chart, becoming Amos' final single to reach the top 100 there.
Gold Dust is the 13th solo studio album by American singer-songwriter Tori Amos, released on October 1, 2012 by Deutsche Grammophon and Mercury Classics. The album is produced by Amos with arrangements by long-time collaborator John Philip Shenale. Inspired by and following in a similar vein as Amos's previous effort, the classical music album Night of Hunters (2011), Gold Dust features some of her previously released alternative rock and baroque pop songs re-worked in an orchestral setting. The material for Gold Dust, consisting of songs selected by Amos spanning her entire catalogue from Little Earthquakes (1992) through Midwinter Graces (2009), was recorded with the Metropole Orchestra, conducted by Jules Buckley.
Unrepentant Geraldines is the fourteenth studio album by American singer-songwriter and pianist Tori Amos. The album, available on standard CD/digital download, a limited edition CD+DVD, and two disc vinyl LP, was released in Germany on May 9, 2014 by Mercury Classics and May 13, 2014 in the United States by Mercury Classics/Universal Mercury Classics. Unrepentant Geraldines is Amos' eighth studio album to debut in the top 10 of the Billboard 200.
"A Silent Night with You" is a song written and performed by the American singer-songwriter, Tori Amos. It was released November 29, 2009 as the only promotional single from the seasonal album Midwinter Graces (2009).
"Maybe California" is a song by American singer and songwriter Tori Amos from her tenth studio album Abnormally Attracted to Sin (2009). It was released as a promotional single May 19, 2009 by Universal Republic as a digital download only.
The Light Princess is the commercial music release from the stage adaptation of the Scottish fairy tale by George MacDonald.