Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
For those that prefer their lyrics to conform to the more straightforward and simple variety, the iconoclastic Amos’ ruminations are a challenging proposition. But the fact that many of her lyrics are not intuitively easy to decode and invite a wide range of interpretation is a healthy exercise as a listener, I think. But I also understand the “acquired taste” dynamic of Amos’ music. As I’ve written about, I was initially skeptical and dismissive, only to see the light upon hearing Amos’ third album Boys for Pele (1996), which compelled me to revisit its precursors Little Earthquakes (1992) and Under the Pink (1994).
Propelled by its creator’s left-of-center lyricism and evocative piano compositions, Little Earthquakes is an emotional, introspective ride that takes our society’s rigid constructs of patriarchy and religion to task. Standouts include the self-examination anthem “Crucify,” Amos’ eloquent exploration of suppression “Silent All These Years,” her rejection of antiquated sexual and gender mores on “Precious Things,” and the incisive breakup song “Tear in Your Hand.” “Me and a Gun,” Amos’ stark, a cappella recollection of being raped by a stranger at the age of 21, remains the most jarring and important song, capturing the psychological and emotional toll incurred by rape victims.
Amos is set to release her fifteenth studio album, Native Invader, on September 8th, a fact that reinforces just how prolific she has remained across the past quarter century since Little Earthquakes delivered much more than a mere tremor across the music world.