On this album are four masterpieces, six really quite good songs, and two exercises in shrieking drudgery.
The opening track "Spark" is, quite simply, an accomplishment of epic proportion; and by the time it reaches its climax of thundering piano, its greatness and terrible beauty are staggering. The secret, mournful "Black Dove," with its opening, antique-phonograph instrumentals that sound like snow very quietly falling, seems to fluctuate between uneasy passion and passionate defiance. "Jackie's Strength" is a lovely, wistful evocation of lost childhood and adolescence, among many other things; and "Hotel"...with its theme of the surrealism of the passing of time, the sadness of the same, and the incredulity of survival... has some of the best lyrics Amos has ever penned; it finally collapses, in an exhausted throes, at its own feet, with the final lines: " You were wild...where are you now?...You were wild...King Solomon's Mines...Exit 75...I'm still alive...I'm still alive....I'm still alive."
By contrast, the way too obscure, frequently cacophonous and often annoyingly grating "iieee" and "Liquid Diamonds" are not worth the time it takes to sit through them. "She's Your Cocaine"...in some ways a companion piece to Boys For Pele's "Professional Widow"... is a witty, thoroughly enjoyable exercise in vengeance that flat out rocks ("is it true that devils end up like you? Something safe for the picture frame?" Amos sneers at one point.) "Northern Lad" is as exquisite as anything Amos has ever done, as is "Playboy Mommy," her heartbreaking eulogy to the daughter she miscarried. "Choirgirl" is definitely not Tori's best album, as far as overall ambience goes, but it certainly a very good one. However, that it is largely an experiment is obvious. In some ways Amos might be better off staying with the muses that seem to serve and mentor her, rather than courting discordant harpies from other realms.