Tori Amos

Strange Little Girls

  • Atlantic

Since her early, stark version of Nirvana's “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” it was apparent that Tori Amos had a knack for recording fascinating covers. But she's taken the concept several steps further on Strange Little Girls.

The album finds Amos reworking 12 songs written by men and giving them her own particularly unique perspective. Undoubtedly the most controversial cover is her version of Eminem's “'97 Bonnie & Clyde,” a deeply disturbing tale of wife killing that Amos sings—with chilling, terrifying tenderness while taking on the character of the victim.

A strong supporter of anti-violence efforts, she makes her own statement with that track as well as with a long, compelling cover of The Beatles' “Happiness Is a Warm Gun,”—which is accompanied by news reports of John Lennon's murder and recitations by her own father (Dr. Edison Amos) on the right to bear arms. There's also a raspy take of the Boomtown Rats' murderous, gun-blasting saga “I Don't Like Mondays.”

Most of the songs are given dramatically different musical interpretations—Neil Young's quiet “Heart of Gold,” for example, is reworked as a blazing, discordant noise-fest—and in general, Amos's covers prove highly imaginative.

Kevin O'Hare