Is there ever a better musical gift from the universe than a new Tori Amos album right when you need it?

On “Unrepentant Geraldines,” Tori Amos gives us who she is, who she always was, and who she is proud to be. Amid plenty of high-culture, full-band and symphony-tinged numbers filled with whimsy and smart lyrical takes on life and society, I cannot help but feel instantly drawn to the softer, piano-led moments of composition-driven narratives, the kind where she channels analytical depths of heart and mind the way she has so many times before, though they’ve only grown with age, experience and time.

There is much to be said about this record, and its many movements and muses, but tonight I find myself completely struck by a mid-album ballad, “Selkie,” which is the kind of song that creeps into your subconscious, lays down roots and digs deep. By Tori standards, it’s a positively uplifting ode to romance and devotion. Characters and scenery paint a story unknown to any but the author, and yet, with the right chords, chorus and metaphor, we recognize its tenants. Tori is difficult for many listeners to understand, but she has never been anything short crystal clear feeling to me. On this record, on songs like “Selkie,” I think we see an artist who, for decades, has honed her natural-born talent and hard work into a sound all her own, one that now is most prominently influenced by the artist’s own body of work.

I’ve listened to this album 10 times through so far, and more tracks are instant classics than I could ever hope to hear. “Selkie” is very likely one of them, because it is delicate and thoughtful, it is straightforward, it is artistic, strange and beautiful.

“Selkie unzips her skin, finally determined
Through a window in the dark, there he sits all alone

I’ve been waiting on the love of my life to find
He’s been waiting on his selkie to come back

He said “I know these shores are not like yours
But will you make your home in my arms?”

Selkie battled tide and wave just to gaze upon his face
Hiding behind rocks to learn if he found a new love

Lorelei sings the song for lovers who were torn apart then left broken-hearted
Lorelei hears the cry of lovers that the sea of fate had separated.

Selkie puts her hand in his, he knows the gift she gives
There inside his cabinet, folded safe her seal skin

I’ve been waiting on the love of my life to find
He’s been waiting on his selkie to come back

He said “I know these shores are not like yours
But will you make your home in my arms?”
~Selkie
Tori Amos, Unrepentant Geraldines