Music Monday: A Tori Amos Christmas?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Tori Amos
Midwinter Graces
Universal Republic

A Tori Amos Christmas album? Seriously?

That was my first thought when I opened Midwinter Graces, a new album out this week from the indie queen. The quirky, moody crooner seems like a strange fit for the wholesome, fuzzy holiday season. Plus, Christmas albums are usually crap (a fact MoJo staffers recently lamented at length).

But I should have known better than to to doubt the seditious songstress. Rather than recording syrupy holiday tunes, Amos has crafted a collection of covers and originals filled with whimsy and melancholy—the musical equivalent of spiked eggnog.

Some of her twists are subtle, like a rhythmic reimagining of the “Noel, Noel” refrain in “What Child, Nowell”—her mashup of “What Child Is This?” and “The First Noel”—or the backdrop of a drumbeat on “Emmanuel.” Others are more pointed, like a lyrical personification of the ivy in “Holly, Ivy, and Rose,” or gothic instrumentals in “Star of Wonder.” Either way, there’s a distinct sense that Amos wants to subvert the conventions of Christmas music, even as she pays them homage.

Amos also retains her lyrical trademark of precious poeticism: Black satin is what I wore / That, and our hearts left on the floor, she laments in “Pink and Glitter”; on “Winter’s Carol,” she muses The summer queen has been in darkness.

The only misstep is “Snow Angel,” a leaden, cheesy ballad that reminds the listener what could’ve been had Amos chosen cliché over imagination. It’s a good thing that didn’t happen.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate