A lot of artists use the well-worn tactic of escaping a stylistic rut by looking back. On Night Of Hunters, Tori Amos looks back 400 years. Recorded for renowned classical label Deutsche Grammophon, Hunters comes after a decade where Amos was mired in adult contemporary gunk and self-parody. It’s a sprawling story-song cycle that features variations on pieces by classical composers like Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Schubert, and Erik Satie. Just describing the album makes it seem like Amos has completely disappeared down the rabbit hole, but Hunters is actually her most enjoyable album in years.
The album’s acoustic chamber-piece nature, with Amos’ foregrounded piano joined by string and horn sections, pushes her away from many of her recent dodgy production choices and gives insistent compositions like “Shattering Sea” and “Battle Of Trees” room to breathe. The overarching theme of Hunter, which concerns a woman’s emotional collapse and rebirth, is mainly useful for how it focuses Amos and allows her to channel palpable desperation on the title track and “Job’s Coffin” (a duet with her daughter, Natashya Hawley) without getting lost in her headspace. An album-length thesis on the enduring beauty of classical music is an unexpected way for an artist to get back to basics, but Amos has always been one to do things her way.