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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tori Amos beautifully refines great songs

It's hard for me to imagine liking a best-of album more than I like "Gold Dust."

In fact, I have fairly intense feelings for Tori Amos' recently released compilation -- or at least a compilation of sorts. Amos -- one of my favorite musical artists -- didn't just take a bunch of her hits and fan faves and slap them together in a traditional best-of album. Instead, she rerecorded those songs.

She didn't just stop there, however. Amos worked with a longtime collaborator, John Philip Shenale, who wrote orchestral arrangements for the numbers, adding orchestration -- or more orchestration -- to them.

As someone who most treasures the songwriters lush, melodic side, I find the results spectacular. The album is loaded with some of my favorite Amos songs, including "Marianne," "Jackie's Strength" and "Winter," done just beautifully. Better, though, is that songs I've liked but never truly loved -- the B-side "Flying Dutchman" most notably -- are very compelling with this treatment. Other highlights include "Programmable Soda," "Yes, Anastasia" and the title track.

I would imagine the criticism one would have for this album is that Amos did not seek to reinvent these songs. They are not greatly reworked but instead highly recognizable. It would be a fair criticism. For me, though, the refining she's done here -- the fresh polishing, if you will -- is just wonderful.

For a longtime fan of Amos, "Gold Dust" is pure gold.

-- Mark Meszoros | | @nhfeatures

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