Epic Records - 2002 - 74 minutes

Conceived as an alter ego's journey across the United States, 'Scarlet's Walk' sees Tori Amos' ambition go into orbit on this, her seventh album - and finally sees her release a collection to hold its own with 1991's 'Little Earthquakes' and its 1994 follow-up, 'Under The Pink'.

First of all, the bad news. It won't take long for you to notice that this album is simply too long. And with a running time of 74 minutes there's bound to me more than one or two fillers. There are. But now for the good news: Amos has always seemed singularly determined to do her own thing, and the sheer lyrical scope of this record deserves its due. Over the course of 18 songs (and 50 States), Tori wraps themes of faith, death, sex, nationality and liberty in lush arrangements, the best of which are punctuated by her sparkling piano-playing.

There is a visual resonance to this album which often plays like a movie for the mind. On songs like 'I Can't See New York', 'Strange', and 'Another Girl's Paradise', one can almost see Tori/Scarlet caught on the carousel of starting and stopping, on a journey of discovery with no visible destinations ever in sight.

It's looking increasingly unlikely that Amos will ever deliver anything to eclipse 'Little Earthquakes' and 'Under The Pink', but this could be as close as she'll get.

Tom Grealis

Tracklisting: Amber Waves - A Sorta Fairytale - Wednesday - Strange - Carbon - Crazy - Wampum prayer - Don't Make Me Come To Vegas - Sweet Sangria - Your Cloud - Pancake - I Can't See New York - Mrs. Jesus - Taxi Ride - Another Girl's Paradise - Scarlet's Walk - Virginia - Gold Dust