American Doll Posse

During her career Tori Amos has played with the concept of personas before but never to the extent that she does on American Doll Posse. The 23 songs on the release are written by five distinct characters, according to Amos, each with their own history, agenda, fashion style and blog. Isabel, Clyde, Pip, Santa and Tori are based on women in Greek mythology with corresponding character traits.

Isabel (Artemis) is a political rabble-rouser and photographer. Clyde (Persephone) is emotionally vulnerable but remains idealistic. Pip (Athena) is a confrontational "warrior woman." Santa (Aphrodite) is sensual and passionate. And then there is Tori (Demeter and Dionysus) an exaggerated version of Amos. In the CD artwork she appears with a bible in one hand while the other hand is extended to reveal the word "shame."

Therein lies the theme of American Doll Posse as well as earlier Amos releases - how the patriarchy views women and what impact religion has on the role women play within it. Amos views herself and other women as having been compartmentalized. Each of the Posse characters represent an element of Amos' whole identity that may have been repressed but now finds voice in the extremes of each personality. Isabel responds with the short but curt "Yo George" in which she questions the sanity of current U.S. leadership while Pip lashes out at negative stereotypes with "Fat Slut" and "Teenage Hustling."

Amos recorded and produced the disc at her own Martian Studios in Cornwall, England. Her arrangements continues to focus on piano driven melodies but unlike "Sleeps With Butterflies" she punches up the volume and reveals her roots in 70's rock music, especially glam-rock. It's hard not to recognize the influence of David Bowie, T. Rex and Robert Plant on Amos' work, an interesting juxtaposition considering her subject matter. This complexity enhances Tori Amos fascinating persona(s) and why her fans so rabidly await each new release. At 23 tracks, American Doll Posse has the depth of character to warrant repeated listening.

Rosemary Welsch, WYEP Afternoon Mix host