I was not excited to hear Kate Bush had a new record out this winter. I’ve gotten excited and then disappointed by her releases since The Red Shoes, and the lameness of The Director’s Cut (an appealing premise, an appalling result*) had convinced me that she had nothing left to offer.
So 50 Words For Snow was the first album by her I didn’t run out and pick up. I downloaded it from somewhere to sample. Irony: it’s brilliant, and I can’t stop listening to it. (I’ve gone out and bought it – a nice vinyl package.)
It’s meditative and enveloping and deep, and really effective. I’m impressed. I don’t hold it against an artist when they run out of gas – it’s almost inevitable. But it is genuinely exciting to find out that an older genius still has it. If Joni Mitchell has one record left in her as good as this, I’ll be a very happy man. I’m not holding my breathe, but it’d be nice.
Go somewhere else to read about the record. Click here to hear a sample – Snowflake. The almost-Kate voice (“my fabulous dancing…”) is, interestingly, her son.
* The Director’s Cut was her reworking of about half the songs on The Sensual World and half of The Red Shoes. If you haven’t heard it, and care, go hear the original version of Deeper Understanding to see why the new version is even more awful than you think. The Sensual World‘s version was musically so interesting and warm that I easily forgave the silly-ish premise. This new version is terrible, and the decision to suck-it-up is questionable in a George Lucas sort of of way.
That being said, the whole Director’s Cut thing is a great reminder that the records we love are often happy accidents – of pleasing writing, players, performances, production values, choices, plus context and timing in our own lives all matching up at once – and that it is luck/fortune that brings us those great records.
Here: if you don’t know she was once unbelievable, and care, listen to this, from her best record – brutally dismissed at the time – Night of the Swallow (plays on youtube).