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Review: Amos gets classically inspired for new CD

In this CD cover image released by Deutsche Grammophon, the latest release by Tori Amos, "Night of Hunters" is shown. (AP Photo/Deutsche Grammophon)In this CD cover image released by Deutsche Grammophon, the latest release by Tori Amos, "Night of Hunters" is shown. (AP Photo/Deutsche Grammophon)

Tori Amos, "Night of Hunters" (Deutsche Grammophon)

Tori Amos has established herself as an unmistakable musical presence with a distinctive voice, her powerful piano playing and a penchant for lyrics that can be a bit, well, confounding. "Night of Hunters" is packed with those piercing Amos vocals, her dominating piano and a fair share of head-scratching lyrics, this time around a classically inspired theme of reinvention.

"Hunters" is Amos' first release on the Berlin-based classical record label Deutsche Grammophon, and there are clear classical, even operatic influences, from sweeping strings and reedy woodwinds to back Amos' gripping piano ("Nautical Twilight," ''Your Ghost," ''Seven Sisters.") It's a beautifully composed album that highlights Amos' classical training and her fierce intensity as a musician and songwriter. But long gone are the pointedly poignant, and accessible, lyrics of her earlier work.

Amos has said the album uses the structure of a classical song cycle to tell the story of one life-changing night in the life of a woman who is at the end of a relationship. The album allows the listener to "follow her on a journey to explore complex musical and emotional subject matter," Amos says. It is heady stuff, and the complicated narrative probably will elude those uninitiated in Amos-speak. For instance, the song "Cactus Practice," while lovely, includes lines like, "Will you induct me into a drink of the Cactus Practice?"

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CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: It is an unexpected treat to hear gently lilting youthful voices weave in and out of tracks like "Snowblind," courtesy of Amos' daughter and niece.