It’s a shame that Tori Amos focuses so much on an arbitrary concept album structure on this record, because it leads to a number of forced connections and an a preposterous running time that overshadows how lovely these songs are. At eighty minutes long, there’s simply too much going on here: Amos sequences the album as portions of emotional gardens being tended to Amos as beekeeper, and it’s pretentious and unnecessary, distracting from the individual strengths of the songs by constantly drawing attention to the structure instead of the lyrics. Nevertheless, the songs that work here work really well: From “Sweet the Sting,” which incorporates gospel and R&B, to the lovely lead single “Sleeps with Butterflies” among many others, there are about ten to thirteen excellent songs squeezed in that are worth the effort. It’s just unfortunate that form seems to have dictated content here.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)