Kate Bush returns after a six year absence, pushing aside the re-work album Director's Cut, which was released earlier this year. 50 Words For Snow being her tenth studio album which bolsters an impressive back catalogue.
The first thing you're hit with is the delicate piano, with it being the protagonist for this album. Her artistic lyrics shine through instantly "I was born in a cloud, now I am falling. I want you to catch me". It creates the mood and imagery for the album, something which she does very well. Lush vocals and song structure stands out immensely. My initial reaction to Snowflake was.. C.S Lewis, after double figures of listening, it's.. C.S Lewis.
Lake Tahoe is a long eerie piano piece with beautiful string work. It's extremely difficult to interpret what's actually happening. Kate has created her own winter wonderland, I like it, but the sheer lengh and lack of dynamics create this vision of boredom which she cant escape from. Her vocals are very strong and don't sound aged, it's hard to believe she's past the 50 mark.
Misty begins much brighter than the previous tracks. The piano is joined with light percussion which gives the listener a little something extra to focus on. You could call this easy listening, it has all the ingredients. The beautiful piano, clear slightly reverbed vocals and efficient strings. It has hints of adult contemporary music on Misty. I wouldn't want to begin calling Kate Bush one of those.. artists. But this isn't art rock anymore, don't kid yourself into believing she's back to her Hounds of Love routes, because this is nothing like Hounds of Love. Sure, the second half on that album has many characteristics as this does, but it's not as mature and slow. 50 Words For Snow is a modern day sadcore album.
The most accessible song on the album is also one of the shortest. Saying that.. It's still over seven minutes long. The synthesized Wild Man has structure and great melody, with a highly effected chorus which stands out above everything else. This track has everything, great bass work, dynamic percussion and outstanding vocals. It's the single on the album, much like Radiohead's Lotus Flower for The King of Limbs. I never thought I'd be comparing Kate Bush with Radiohead, but it happens..
Snowed In At Wheeler Street is a duet with (Sir) Elton John, think of that image. I imagine something cheesy and terrible, but this song is actually my favourite. It has lyrics with severe meaning, mentioning past events where they have crossed each others path. It's incredibly romantic, with passionate vocals given by both parties. Elton John giving a surprisingly strong, masculine vocal. He sounds like a rough David Bowie on this track. The lengh of the song really combines the two characters together. At over eight minutes, it's remarkably long for a duet. The synthesized melody is the backbone, with very sparse cymbal percussion and light piano playing once again.
The following track isn't as powerful or synthetic as the previous beauty. It's the title track and it features Comedian/Actor/Legend Stephen Fry, giving a spoken word reading. the instrumentation is almost like an intro, but it never really takes off. The bass is waiting for something to happen, but nothing really captures me. Kate sings throughout about how many word's are left, which is strange. It's like a primary school numeracy lesson gone wrong. It's really confusing why it's on the album, among these other beautiful eerie pieces.
Among Angels is the shortest song on the album at over six minutes. It's by far the most melancholy, with sparse instrumentation and beautiful vocals. I love Kate's voice on this song, her voice hasn't aged one bit. It's still as profound and dynamical as it was in the late 70's, with a hint of maturity and grit. Her vocals give off the sense of emotion, something which I look for in music personally. It's a fantastic end to the piano/string album.
So this album isn't perfect, no album is. We hear some absolutely amazing pieces with Lake Tahoe and Misty, spectacular, accessible tracks with Wild Man and Snowed In At Wheeler Street, then we have the eerie Snowflake and beautiful Among Angels. It took me about four listens to fully grasp the concept. The atmosphere created is spot on, it's very dark and cold, made for winter. I think she's capable of creating something more fulfilling than this, never the less, this is among the best albums of year.