I dunno why this one didn't get more traction -- it was easily the most accessible Tori Amos album of the year!
From Sheep & Goats:
Martin writes strong, unusual melodies that wind up in unexpected places — they haunt the same ethereal moors as Loreena McKennitt or scale the banshee heights of her voice, only to come back down for a perfectly landed hook. Martin owes plenty to Tori Amos and Kate Bush, don’t think she doesn’t know it, but she avoids their distaff visions, leaving her songs open to broader interpretations. Which is to say, I don’t usually know what she’s talking about. But that’s OK, because her writing arm enjoys a symbiotic relationship with her classically-trained throat — she writes words that sound good coming from her voice, and her voice pulls those words through its enormous range without ever sounding fussy. Martin’s piano stalks and twirls throughout, an accompanist second only to her producer/husband Ken Andrews. His sound effects dress up her songs without clutter; every horn stab or twinkling chime or ominous background rumble fits perfectly. For an album that often sounds like it’s dancing with fairies, Needles has sharp pop instincts.
Dancing on Needles