Album Review: Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow

By on Thursday, 24th November 2011 at 12:00 pm

I am a huge Kate Bush fan. I would buy one of her albums simply out of loyalty. And I have. Sadly, I was disappointed with ‘Director’s Cut’. But who am I to judge her artistic refinements? Anyway, I hate change, so it was a bit of a losing battle with me in the first place. So I approached ’50 Words for Snow’ with trepidation. This new album is an anomaly in itself since Bush hasn’t released two records in the same year since her first two albums in 1978. However, it is the first new material in 6 years. Clearly reworking her older material for ‘Director’s Cut’ inspired her to record more.

Of the notion that Eskimos have fifty words for snow, Bush says “it’s a complete myth – they don’t really…and I thought well what if we start with words that already exist and then gradually they would become sillier and sillier and more fantastical. So I set about kind of making up words that was evocative of snow. “ The title track, lush with a deep beat and whipping winds, has actor Stephen Fry intoning words like white-out and avalanche at the beginning. Not too far into it though, snow becomes stellatundra, whippoccino and crème-bouffant, the fantastical words Bush had envisioned.

References to snow and cold weather are everywhere, from the hymn-like ‘Lake Tahoe’ to the Yeti in the deep and twisted stand out track ‘Wild Man’. We even have a rather surprising duet with Elton John in ‘Snowed in at Wheeler Street’.

Much of the album seems like a performance piece. It is full of artistic endeavor, and all of it well executed and beautiful; a meditation perhaps. But few of the offerings grab me as so many of her songs have in the past.

To be honest, I found the album a bit plodding and unchanging. I miss what I fondly refer to as the “screechiness” of her older works. It is, however, completely indicative of an artist maturing into her craft and creating a piece that is still able to stand on its own, lovely and complete. Bush proclaims that she loves words, especially lyrics “because the words are sung, they can change so dramatically from how they sound when they are spoken.” She still possesses the skill to make those words extraordinary.


’50 Words for Snow’ is available now on Bush’s own label Fish People. Watch her Web site’s official intro for the new album below.


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