Tori Amos hopes she can take back the power with her recently released album American Doll Posse.
Specifically in her sights: the acronym MILF (Mom I'd Like to, um ... romance), which she proudly proclaims herself as being in the bubbly lead single "Big Wheel." Unfortunately, what's not surprising is that some uptight radio stations have refused to play the song.
"I think it's so funny," says Amos, calling from Florida. "Doesn't it just justify the whole point? The whole point that there are so many things played on the radio cutting people up, shocking violent stuff and even shocking sexual stuff and yet MILF is shocking.
"This goes back to the idea ... that the Christian side of advertising cannot accept the idea that the Mother Mary and the Magdalene can unify in women."
"That's how we've been not as powerful within ourselves for centuries," Amos says. "So you bring the mother image in with the sexual image, which is liberating. All mothers should look at themselves in the mirror and say, "I'm a MILF.' It's just not accepted. That's why I did it."
You get the sense that Amos' anticipation of the battle played into her decision to drop the term MILF into a single. Still, truth be told, Amos is a MILF. Appearing more fit and relaxed onstage than she has in years, the '90s singer-songwriter, known for hit songs "God" and "Cornflake Girl," appears to be atop her game.
Considering it's been 15 years since the diminutive, red-haired chanteuse released Little Earthquakes, Amos continues to challenge herself and her fans, musically speaking. While American Doll Posse features a wide array of styles, it's the album's narrative use of alter egos Santa, Clyde, Isabel, Tori and Pip that marks a different approach for the 44-year-old singer-songwriter.
Even more unique: Her current tour finds Amos beginning each show in the costume and character of one of those alter egos. It's the character of Tori, who in press photos has a Bible in one hand and the word "shame" spelled out in another, who caught our eye.
"I felt that if you call yourself American Doll Posse, you have to deal with one of the most important power brokers in America, which is the right-wing Christian power broker," Amos says. "Being a minister's daughter, I don't claim to know much in this world, but I do understand how it operates. And how do you combat it? It seems to me the only way is with ideology. You have to confront the ideology."
Apparently her audience still enjoys her combative nature, which makes Amos one of the more compelling artists of the era. Sure, Amos' albums are far from platinum, and her concert tours are mainly booked in mid-size venues and theaters. But the struggle for relevance continues to fuel her career.
"What's difficult is when you're not the "It Girl' and somebody else is, and then you have to start building for yourself your own sonic architecture," she says. "Peter Gabriel talked to me about this years ago. He said, "This is all nice and good, but I'm more interested in how you're going to develop as a composer and how you're going to make this your life.' And that really stayed with me."
Wells Fargo Theatre, 700 14th St., Denver
Wednesday, Nov. 28, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $37.50-$65, all ages;