Tori Amos may have an earth mother rep, but even soulful singer-songwriters get pissed off. With her new album ”Scarlet’s Walk,” Amos is taking a harsh look at the plight of Native Americans, corporate greed, and the aftermath of Sept. 11. EW.com talked to the 39-year-old mom (daughter Natashya recently turned 2) about living in England, impatient file-swappers, and Those Who Are They (don’t worry, she’ll explain).
”Scarlet’s Walk” tells the story of one woman’s journey across the United States, and you even included a map in the liner notes. Why a road trip?
Maybe it was because I was on tour last year. While my daughter, Tashya, was sleeping in her little bunk I was writing in the back of the bus, watching the road signs go by at two, three in the morning. You realize that stories don’t stop when everybody goes to bed. And as I looked at the structures of the songs, they would be very much tied to a place. I worked with drummer Matt Chamberlain on rhythms that might have come from those places.
This album comes out just a year after ”Strange Little Girls,” even though you’ve been touring and changed labels. How did you pull that off?
I was getting seeds for this when I was pregnant with Tash, and I would play a lot of it for her when she was inside. I started to discover I was getting close to something. There were references in the work to America, and there was trouble brewing in that story. It was all a little daunting, so I put it away. I did the cover record [”Strange Little Girls”] instead, because after having a little girl, I had a response to this kind of late ’90s malice towards gays and women. I needed to make a comment.
Have you heard from any of the men whose work you covered for ”Strange Little Girls,” like Eminem? He’s not known for his sense of humor.
Of course I’ve gotten feedback, but I keep it between me and them, because it isn’t about what they thought or not. That was about me responding to a lot of guys saying, ”What is everyone going on about? These violent, hate-filled lyrics are only words.” But maybe that album was a dress rehearsal in a way for this one, because the women seemed to become the anima of the songs, and maybe working with all of their music stepped up my game a little.
It seems like motherhood has had a big impact on your songwriting.
I think so, without even knowing it. With motherhood, it’s not all about you anymore. It’s about whether you can hold a space, pass the torch, and answer the right questions so there’s a world left that your daughter might not be completely intimidated by.