Tori Amos is not one to sit back and watch America waste away under its current administration without airing some grievances. And so, while planning to write to her 15th solo album about her mother's familial roots, Amos felt compelled to instead address two tragedies that struck last year: the 2016 U.S. election and her mother's debilitating stroke.
Native Invader isn't a black and white protest record; Amos's discourse is filtered through the natural and spiritual world she regularly frequents. Although she's always had the ability to confront her subjects through lyrics of biting ire and scorn, Amos chooses more of a sombre disposition and sprawling arrangements to convey her message here. On single "Cloud Riders," for example, she uses a spacious, lackadaisical arrangement to declare that "we'll be riding out this storm."
Of course, Amos couldn't resist some political jabs. With her daughter Natasha Hawley's help, she calls out Trump for his ignorance on climate change with the hasty "Up the Creek" ("We may just survive / If the Militia of the Mind / Arm against those climate blind"); on "Benjamin," she attacks "those pimps in Washington" that "are selling the rape of America"; and the title of "Russia" alone delivers its message, but also speaks of the native invader himself.
Yes, Native Invader is an effectual statement by an artist who has built her career on making them, but at times it feels a little restrained in its tone compared to some of her most memorable work. You'd think this would be an album that would demand that side of her, but Amos maintains her cool in delivering this concept — and that may actually be the more difficult kind of expression. (Decca)