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Tori Amos, ‘American Doll Posse’ (Epic)

Not merely the most confrontational, catchy, and guitar-heavy music of Tori Amos’ career, this abrupt about-face from 2005’s sedate The Beekeeper is arguably the singer/pianist’s greatest, and undeniably sexiest, album. Now reserving her motherly side for family time, Amos shifts into warrior mode, with anthems so ballsy that her rep as the remote princess of airy-fairy twinkle begs for serious revision.

Start with the swaggering “Teenage Hustling,” where Amos warns a sneaky young contender not to go “skankin’ around” her man. Then check out the feral “You Can Bring Your Dog,” in which she entreats a “pretty boy” to “play the wolf for the evening.” Her songs had become long and loose over the years; here they’re tight and sharp and snarling.

No longer just singing to the converted, this consummate cult icon now sounds committed to taking on the world. From the softly seething opener, “Yo George,” to the climactic lament “Dark Side of the Sun,” this 23-track, but atypically succinct, statement deals with life during “the madness of King George” and calls on women to stop disappearing behind fragmented feminine roles and reach out to their religion-polarized brothers. Trading obscure metaphors for assertive personae, Amos sings with a remarkably forceful focus. Anger has made her accessible and her songs instantly memorable.

Now Hear This: Tori Amos – “Big Wheel” WINDOWS MEDIA | REAL | QUICKTIME