Tori Amos - “Ocean to Ocean” Album Review

Story posted November 4, 2021 in

Tori Amos returns with her sixteenth studio album, “Ocean to Ocean,” in which she explores themes of loss and coping, and the struggle of moving on.

Amos is a singer-songwriter and pianist who is known for exploring alternative and contemporary styles within her pop/rock discography, while largely producing piano-based works.

“Ocean to Ocean” continues this style of music, fitting right into her existing discography with a strong piano presence and alternative/indie rock sounds.

The album leads off with “Addition of Light Divided” which contributes an upbeat mood and brisk tempo while Amos sings of moving on past the sadness, pain, and brokenness and of meeting someone who pulls you out into the light.

“Speaking With Trees” follows the first track with the whimsical sounds of strings accompanied by the driving pulse of the drums. While these instrumentals are complementary, they are overpowering and drown out the lyrics.

Unfortunately, this album offers little variation in timbre and tempo, and listeners will find that many songs resemble each other. A driving, steady beat and loud, full instrumental sounds are paired together in almost every song, often overshadowing the lyrical content.

On the other hand, this results in “Ocean to Ocean” being cohesive overall in its alternative indie/folk style.

The thematic and lyrical qualities of this album are based around the death of Amos’ mother, contributing to a longing and emotional mood throughout.

In “Swim to New York State,” Amos says she would swim the distance from Cornwall to New York for the chance to meet with someone one last time.

Similarly, in “Flowers Burn to Gold” Amos sings of searching for someone who has been gone for a while, asking “Where are you? / I scan the skies / Voices in the breeze / I scan the sea,” likely referring to her mother.

When she is not reminiscing on loss and the feeling of sadness, Amos shifts the thematic content to coping and dealing with such loss.

“Metal Water Wood” describes moving on from a hard time by going with the flow “like water” while “Devil’s Bane” explores the difficulty of trying to move on and being purified from past lies.

For Amos’ musical range, this album was disappointing in its similarity and lack of variation in instrumental qualities.

For her next album, Amos should keep her distinguishing piano tone but incorporate unique beats and other instrumental qualities to offer more depth and dimension. These modifications would also keep listeners engaged, as “Ocean to Ocean” began to lose captivating qualities around the fifth track due to its repetitiveness.

Overall, “Ocean to Ocean” offers personal notes of struggle and loss and searches for ways to cope with and overcome these hardships. Amos stays true to her musical identity with her trademark piano style and pop/alternative genre.

Some listeners may find the lyrical content to be relatable and comforting, which was likely Amos’ goal with this album.

While Amos has produced better albums in her career, “Ocean to Ocean” is still a well-crafted album in terms of its thematic content and complementary acoustics.

Rating: 5/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Song: “Speaking with Trees”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: “29 Years”

 

Grace Muratore is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email gem5301@psu.edu.

About the Contributors

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Grace Muratore

Junior / Broadcast Journalism

Grace Muratore is a third-year student from Fredericksburg, Virginia majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in Spanish. She is a writer for the CommRadio arts & entertainment department, and works within the production department creating elements for various sporting events. Grace also is a field reporter and part of the studio crew for PSNtv, Penn State’s biweekly news show. Currently, she is interning with Penn State Athletics doing live video production. If you would like to contact Grace, email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).