Music Feeds’ Love Letter to a Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with the music they love and share stories about how it has influenced their lives. Here, Naarm/Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Taylah Carroll raises a toast to Tori Amos’ debut album, Little Earthquakes, released in 1992.
Taylah Carroll has released her second EP, The After Party, via [PIAS] Australia. The sequel to 2022’s Have A Party On Me finds Carroll in a more introspective and contemplative headspace. Several singles have been lifted from The After Party, including ‘Sleep On My Side’, ‘Monogamy’ and ‘Shower Song’. Watch the video for Carroll’s latest single, ‘Novelty Seeker’, at the bottom of this page.
Taylah Carroll’s love letter to Tori Amos’ Little Earthquakes
Taylah Carroll: I might have known it was love when I took you on the school bus in my discman, long after the dawn of iPods. In a teen world where Beyoncé, Kesha and Gaga reigned supreme, I looked to you, Little Earthquakes.
I was first introduced to Tori Amos’ spellbinding debut record, Little Earthquakes, at roughly 14. As a baby pianist and budding songwriter, I was immediately struck. Amos has this mystical quality – an omniscience that commands you not just hear, but listen. And listen I did.
It was the first time I critically engaged with lyrics that felt written in my own voice, or something like it. The lyrics were strikingly different from those I’d drawn through the sugared lips of previous pop-princess idols, but still utterly feminine in perspective.
“He said, ‘You’re really an ugly girl, but I like the way you play’
And I died / But I thanked him
Can you believe / Sick, sick, holding on to his picture
Dressing up every day / I want to smash the faces
Of those beautiful boys / Those christian boys
So, you can make me cum / That doesn’t make you Jesus”Tori Amos – ‘Precious Things’
It was obscenely honest. “You can’t say that,” I would think. It was as if she were challenging me to shed my gendered and socially policed demur. It was exhilarating.
I was experiencing my own little earthquakes at the time, affronted by the awkward and gangly years of early adolescence, familial breakdown and a subsequent custody battle, things that at the time felt as though they swallowed my little world whole.
I performed ‘Winter’ a cappella at a high school assembly that year. I don’t think I really realised how deeply connected the song’s sentiment was with what I was going through myself. Amos writes of her relationship with both her father and her mother on this record – relationships explored much less frequently than romantic ones in our popular culture, despite them being relationships that arguably bear way more influence on us.
Throughout my teen years, Little Earthquakes was a place of delicate refuge, a harbour. But it was also deeply empowering. I was empowered by the sweeping sonic fields, inspired to roam free among Tori’s vocal pirouettes. I was jolted to consciousness by stubborn rumblings of electric guitar and the bitey, poetic protest of the album’s contents.
Little Earthquakes examines sex, religion, and independence through a distinctly female lens. ‘Silent All These Years’ even looks at cognitive autonomy, as Amos grapples with the idea that she can’t disentangle her own perspective from those around her.
“So you found a girl who thinks really deep thoughtsTori Amos – ‘Silent All These Years’
What’s so amazing about really deep thoughts?
Boy you best pray that I bleed real soon
How’s that thought for you?”
As a young and unfurling woman, I found solidarity and understanding in this record. As a young artist, I learned of unbridled expression, of catharsis and the power of my unique voice. To this day, Tori Amos feels like my personal good witch. She is exacting and wildly feminine, an outcast who wills the rest of us to escape persecution alongside her.
Taylah Carroll – ‘Novelty Seeker’
Listen to Taylah Carroll’s new EP, The After Party, here