Tori Amos Offers Comfort and Joy with Christmastide EP
Rachel: Earlier in 2020, Tori Amos released her second book, Resistance which weaves personal experiences and politics with songwriting. While an upcoming album is touched upon in the material, no release date was given.
However, Christmas came early when Amos announced a holiday EP entitled Christmastide. The four-song release contains beautiful and whimsical art by graphic artist Rantz Hosely. (He designed my favorite piece of Tori merch ever, the Y Kant Tori Read shirt from the Native Invader tour.)
Sonically, the songs sound like a natural extension of Native Invader with its themes of strength in the face of great challenges, but it would also pair well with her previous holiday offering Midwinter Graces. “Christmastide” and “Circle of Seasons” feature nautical imagery and focus on the longing for light in the dark and the importance of keeping memories close. The theme of loss comes front in center in “Holly” where Amos firmly reminds “Lady, time to dry your eyes/You know this is not goodbye.”
But the centerpiece of the EP is the closer, entitled “Better Angels.” It’s a phrase we heard much of this never-ending (and somehow still ongoing) election season. But she pushes the imagery further, encapsulating what 2020 has been for many of us:
“These burning, these burning ashes in my mouth
Heaven help us out of this never-ending spell
Our better angels are singing, singing
One way out, only one way out of this
Unfreeze those wings that you dreamed in your chrysalis”
I often joke that Amos often drops songs when we need them most, as she is tuned into some higher frequency as well as what we, as humans, are feeling collectively. It’s been a hard year, and the holidays aren’t always happy, so it took me a while to come around to listen to it, but when I sat down with it, I found both comfort and joy, and most important of all, hope for the year ahead.