Tori Amos explores Celtic mythology in new album ‘Night of Hunters’ 

click to enlarge Concept album: Tori Amos’ new recording “Night of Hunters” is based on works by poet Robert Graves, with variations on classical themes and vocals by Amos’ daughter. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Concept album: Tori Amos’ new recording “Night of Hunters” is based on works by poet Robert Graves, with variations on classical themes and vocals by Amos’ daughter.

For American-born, British-based keyboardist Tori Amos, there’s no such thing as playing it safe.

For her new 12th album, “Night of Hunters,” the erudite daughter of a Methodist minister uses Robert Graves’ book “The White Goddess” — and a shapeshifting character called Annabelle — to examine the fall of female-centered Celtic mythology (and deities like Morrigan and the huntress Arduinna) to male-dominated monotheism.

To achieve this ambitious task, Amos (who appears in Oakland on Friday) employs a 14-track, 21st-century song cycle with variations on themes by classical composers such as Chopin, Satie, Mussorgsky and Granados, plus her 11-year-old daughter, Natashya, to embody Annabelle on several lead vocals.

“Night” — as well as its new all-instrumental version, “Sin Palabras” — was released on the classical imprint Deustsche Grammophon, and already has made music history by simultaneously debuting at No. 1 on Billboard’s Classical Crossover and Classical Overall charts, and at No. 5 and No. 7 on the Alternative and Rock rundowns, respectively.

One nearly 10-minute twist on Schubert, the funereal “Star Whisperer,” morphed into an eponymous short film that just premiered on the Sundance Channel. It was shot in County Cork, Ireland, near the rustic Georgian estate where Amos orchestrated this daunting project.

“All the pictures that come with this album were taken at the Georgian,” says Amos of the pastoral CD photos. “The place was built in 1735, so it has a gothic energy to it. And I bought in 1995, so a lot of memories are there.”

Fascinated by Graves’ poetic tome — and the Celtic fire-and-music goddess Brigid, in particular — she set her saga in Ireland, she adds, “because the story needed to happen in a place that I understood. I’m not an actor — I need to have experienced it in some way in order to sing about it.”

The time-traveling Annabelle teleports Amos’ “Night” avatar — also named Tori — deep into the past to witness her beloved goddess grow subservient to Judaism, then Christianity.

“Then the global crisis emerges, and Annabelle explains to Tori that there are dark forces gathering to invade children’s dreams,” she says. “And the Fire Muse tells her that you can’t combat these invasive forces with destruction — you must out-create them. That’s the only way.”

The biggest album revelation? Amos’ kid can really croon. “She’s been singing and acting since I can remember,” she says of the performing-arts-school-enrolled Natashya. “She helped me develop Annabelle, so I designed the character around her vocals.”

Is there a solo album from Junior coming? Amos chuckles.

“’Tash is champing at the bit, but I’m not throwing her into that just yet,” she says. “Mom says she’s too young — she needs to mature!”  

IF YOU GO

Tori Amos

Where: Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $56.75 to $67.50
Contact: (800) 745-3000; www.ticketmaster.com

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Tom Lanham

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