On her latest album, The Beekeeper, Tori Amos steps back from some of the complex arrangements and ornate instrumentation that sometimes have made her delicate and baroque-ish piano-centric music a little fussy. Instead, she pairs her familiar piano with a Hammond organ to create a richly melodic and easily digestible sound.
But any impression that Amos' ninth album is simpler musically than her earlier releases is misleading, she says.
"I think musically, if you talk to (drummer) Matt Chamberlain, he'll tell you it's really complicated rhythmically," she says. "People who can play music, you sit down and you try to play it. You sit and play 'Barons of Suburbia,' because Matt will tell you it's fucking hard."
At the same time, though, Amos says she did try to make the songs seem straightforward and accessible, adding that the bee theme helped focus the music.
"That's what we wanted, but what you're getting is a complex rhythm, no different than you would in a swarm of bees," she says. "Their wings beat differently. So that's what we were working off of, that within the hive itself the structure is complex, yet it's very structured. So there's just this paradox that we wanted to work off of."
Like the music, The Beekeeper's lyrics are deceptively complex. That shouldn't come as a surprise, considering Amos often has cloaked messages in metaphors. At times, her lyrics can be nearly impenetrable.
The subtle lyrical approach is no accident, Amos explains.
"How do you get through? How do you permeate? I'll tell you how you do it," Amos offers. "You serve a delicious feast, and you're seductive and you invite people in. And that's what we do. I have right-wing congressmen's daughters coming to this show. ... But if you look at the lyrics to the 'The Power Of Orange Knickers,' we're talking about what is a terrorist. If you look at 'General Joy,' we're talking about the war. Really look at what that is."
The depth and thoughtfulness of The Beekeeper is typical for Amos, who, 15 years after her debut, Little Earthquakes, remains one of music's most unique, compelling and intriguing talents.
Amos' emotion and honesty have earned her one of the most feverishly devoted followings in pop music. That fandom and the sheer quality and individuality of her music probably are behind her endurance in a music business that always seems ready to cast aside last year's female star in favor of this year's newer, younger model.
This situation irks Amos, who says she remains determined not to be treated as an object within the entertainment world.
"A lot of times in our female singer/songwriters, we like to devour them, and once we have, we go onto the next one," she says. "We have love affairs instead of seeing them as wise women."
Amos says women have to demand to be treated as artists and not play into stereotypes.
"I just don't accept anything other than being who you are," she adds. "I'm just a lioness. That means I'm going to be hunting wildebeests until I'm 80. And if people don't want to come watch, that's fine. I'll still be hunting."
-- Alan Sculley
Tori Amos with the Ditty Bops and The Like
Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 18300 W. Alameda Pkwy., Morrison
Monday, Sept. 5, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $39.50-$48.50; call 520-9090 or visit ticketmaster.com.