Friday, November 25, 2011

’50 Words for Snow’ by Kate Bush

25 November 2011

It’s hard to think of any other serious musician whose reputation could not only survive but appear to have been enhanced by an Elvis impression, a washing-machine fixation and a duet with Rolf Harris (all on her 2005 album, ‘Aerial’). Those of us who grew up fascinated by Kate Bush’s voice would probably be happy to listen to her reading the telephone directory. We get close to this on her new album but, unfortunately, it is Stephen Fry’s voice, rather than Kate Bush herself, that is given the task of reverentially intoning 50 (made-up) Words for Snow to Bush’s musical encouragement on the title track. ’50 Words for Snow’ is a quiet, contemplative collection of songs, mostly accompanied by gentle piano chords. It’s a beautiful work, despite continuing to sail mischievously close to self-parody (including a sexual encounter with a snowman!). Kate Bush’s celebrity pulling power seems stronger even than that of Ricky Gervais, with Elton John the guest vocalist on ‘Snowed in at Wheeler Street’. Much as I have been enjoying ‘Ceremonials’, the new album from Florence + The Machine, which sounds a lot like Kate Bush in rock-mode (I particularly like the opening track ‘Only If For A Night’ with its bell-ringing descending scales), it is no substitute for the real thing. More please!

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