Tori Amos is one of the most confusing and fascinating singers around, primarily because she gets away with so much: Who else could dedicate an album to "the faeries," publicly fantasize about having sex with God, and allow herself to be pictured nursing a pig without being, well, laughed at? Amos gets away with it, of course, because her albums have occasionally been as compelling as much of From The Choirgirl Hotel, a dense, ghostly web of haunting ballads and obtuse poetry. For every "Pandora's Aquarium," a lyrical journey into Amos' insufferably twee faerie-land—and for every "She's Your Cocaine," a shrill experiment that doesn't work—there's a handful of gently lovely, piano- and string-driven songs like "Jackie's Strength" and "Northern Lad." Coming on the heels of 1996's uneven, excess-driven Boys For Pele, From The Choirgirl Hotel is a welcome arrival: a focused, accessible Tori Amos record that's quirky enough to please her hardcore fans, yet poppy enough to draw in the curious but cynical. Naturally, Amos' most ardent followers have bought it already—and her detractors have already decided not to go near it—but those in the middle would do well to give it a try.