Record Review - 1 September 26 2001

In Strange Little Girls, Tori Amos has made one of the most compelling concept albums of the last few years. A cover album in the broadest sense, it features 12 songs originally performed by a roster of male artists that includes the Beatles, Slayer, Eminem and the Velvet Underground.

Amos' crudely honest femininity breathes fresh life into the originals. The naked strength of her vocals in 10cc's "I'm Not in Love" — devoid of instrumentation aside from eerie feedback and minimalist electro-beats — is reminiscent of "Me and a Gun" from 1994's Little Earthquakes. In Neil Young's "Heart of Gold," the original's homey harmonica charm is traded for a wall of distortion that somehow sounds just right. If you want to give yourself nightmares, try Amos' take on Eminem's "Bonnie & Clyde '97," in which she whispers from the perspective of the rapper's dead wife.

While the aforementioned tracks showcase Amos' creative revisions, she seems most at home with the more traditional interpretations of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence," Tom Wait's "Time" and the Boomtown Rats' "I Don't Like Mondays." These simple arrangements prove that, for Amos, the piano will always be home.

Tori Amos performs Tues., Oct. 2, at the Fox Theatre.??