Kate Bush - '50 Words For Snow' Album Review
A seasonal masterpiece to warm the coldest heart…
Six years on from Kate Bush's last album Ariel, and 2011 has already seen a relative flurry of activity with the release of Director's Cut, which featured reworkings of earlier material, and now the all-new 50 Words For Snow.
The album's seven tracks, which range in length between seven and fourteen minutes long, are all winter themed, and are, as Bush describes them, "set against a background of falling snow."
The first three tracks - Snowflake, Lake Tahoe and Misty - are sparse, glacial affairs, with a strong emphasis on jazzy piano and Bush's vocals, while the album's second half thaws and warms.
As ever, Bush's voice is a marvellously unique and sensual instrument. She plays the part of many of the characters who inhabit 50 Words' worlds, channelling their words as if performing a seance, yet manages to keep the process gimmick free and entirely natural.
As well as once again confirming Bush's voice and melodic talents, 50 Words reinforces her highly imaginative powers of storytelling - who else could write a track like Misty, whose subject is Bush's sexual relationship with a snowman, and make it seem like a heartfelt tale Raymond Briggs would kill to have dreamt up?
Joining Bush on different tracks are an eclectic mix of guests, including Andy Fairweather Low, Albert McIntosh, Stephen Fry, and Elton John - who gives his most heartfelt vocal performance in years on the decades-spanning story of longing Snowed In At Wheeler Street.
50 Words For Snow is an astounding piece of work unlike anything else.
Initially baffling and at times so sparse and slight it appears to melt away as soon as the notes are struck, over time it reveals itself to be an incredibly fulfilling and enchanting collection, twinkling with magic and frozen beauty.