Chilling to Kate’s snowy flurry
KATE Bush’s album 50 Words for Snow about bleak midwinter may send chills down your spine.
The signs weren’t good after a spate of iffy concept albums from female singer-songwriters, including Tori Amos and Bjork.
The festive CD idea is also wearing thin. Tony Bennett’s The Classic Christmas Album follows Sting’s If on a Winter’s Night and Bob Dylan in 2009.
Yet Bush pulls it off with style. The seven rapturous tracks “set against the background of falling snow” are as well done as the water- themed The Ninth Wave in 1985. The album starts with Bush’s 12-year-old son Albert’s choir-boy voice on Snowflake. Think of Robert Frost’s hedges freaked with blizzards or the end of James Joyce’s The Dead. This is magical stuff.
Only rarely does it go wrong, as with Elton John’s stentorian performance on Snowed in on Wheeler Street.
The title track also is unconvincing – an ambient mix with actorcomedian Stephen Fry reciting a list of fabricated words (Eskimos are said to have 50 terms for snow).
Bush had a 12- year musical pause until Aerial in 2005, and this album comes months after Director’s Cut. It’s so good to have her back.
I never thought I’d be reviewing a Bennett album (apart from the passing reference to his Christmas compilation above).
Yet here we are, and it’s a positive write-up too.
Duets II is exactly what it says on the box: the second of a collection where the veteran swinger communes with more recent stars.
Bennett, 85, delivers a welljudged set. Apart from the muchvaunted Body and Soul duet with the late Amy Winehouse, also on her posthumous Lioness album, there’s a hilarious version of The Lady Is a Tramp with Lady Gaga.
Michael Stipe announced the demise of his band REM in Septem- ber, saying the art of partying is knowing when to leave. The band nearly quit in 1997, when drummer Bill Berry retired. Still, they leave a long shadow.
Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011 is the group’s pick of its best material, and all the big hits are there.
The main attraction for fans is three new tracks, including the string-drenched We All Go Back to Where We Belong.
Still, there are other compilations of these kings of indie rock and this one is effortlessly bettered as an introduction by albums such as Automatic for the People and Out of Time. – Washington Post
SNOW JOKE: Kate Bush