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We're reviewing this off a stream of the album (thanks to our sponsors at NPR) as we don't want to open and ruin one of the CD copies. As I mentioned in an earlier review there are lots of winter/christmas themed records out at the moment but this is one that is surely welcomed. Kate as been positively prolific over the last few years but I was in the minority who thought here last opus 'Aerial' was extremely disappointing. The lead 'single' 'Wild Man' showed an originality not seen too often since her career highs of 'The Dreaming' and 'Hounds of Love'. Yet its production values are a little bit of an anomoly on this record. Opener 'Snowflakes' is truly beautiful. Just voice and piano, its downbeat repeating phrase recalls the finest moments from Mark Hollis recently re-issued self titled album. 'Lake Tahoe' starts with slightly discordant voice but soon settles into the routine that follows for most of this album. Its stark yet warm, sometimes wandering aimlessly, sometimes providing a beautiful clarity especially when other instruments such as brushed drums and warm, woody double bass are brought into play. Yet its still 'Wild Man' that sticks in the mind with its evocative synth lines
and (relatively) pop chorus - its still bizzare and non linear but this is a Kate Bush I've wanted to hear for years, skewing pop music into all kinds of uncomfortable positions. No-one else could make a duet with Elton John sound almost....almost listenable - Elton's bizzare pub singer croon sounds so out of place its almost surreal in this context. He really does have a very big voice - the track itself is like kind of warped ,morphed 'Don't Give Up'- not one of her better moments. I often wonder whether professional reviewers have the same doubts as us amateur ones about their justification in giving albums such as this high marks. Its great to have Kate Bush making records again, there are plenty of moments here that are mindblowing but only some of it touches those 80's records in terms of quality. Yet on the excellent title track (featuring Stephen Fry(?) the warm eerie production and screechy chorus remind me of my favourite Kate Bush album 'The Dreaming' and you once again realise what a singular vision this is and its nowhere near over yet.
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