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Album Review
50 Words For Snow

50 Words For Snow
by Kate Bush

Fish People/EMI

Review Date
13th January 2012
Reviewed by
Danielle Street

Obviously any album that is thematically based around adventures in snow isn't going to be optimal summer listening, but alas being at the ass-end of the globe these are the release date conflicts we have with our Northern hemisphere neighbours. 

The myth that Inuits have 50 names for the fluffy white stuff is the inspiration for the title of Kate Bush's tenth album, 50 Words for Snow. Seven tracks dedicated to fairytales based around the icy precipitation. Bush, now in her early 50s, has found her once lofty voice has given way to a softer, deeper tone. Therefore for contrast Bush had her son, Albert, sing the choir-boy highs in opening track 'Snowflake', while she accompanies him with simple and repetitive piano lines.

On the 13:32 minute epic 'Misty' Bush gives a blow-by-blow account of an intimate encounter with a snowman.  Its a tale destined for an unhappy ending, being that her lover is destined to melt into a slushy puddle on her sheets, but she invokes the story with uplifting care and grace.

Title track '50 Words for Snow' features none other than comedian Stephen Fry reciting exactly that, a list of 50 words for snow. However, as is the fantastical nature of this album a large number of these idioms, like "whippoccino", have come directly from the brain of Bush.

Another interesting addition to this album is that of Sir Elton John, who pairs up with Bush on the electric-tinged track 'Snowed in at Wheeler Street'. It's a dramatic song of reunited love, which has inspired some entertaining fan-videos on You Tube - picture a dotty old woman dancing cosmically around her cluttered living room in a blue tutu surrounded by digital snowflakes and you're halfway there.

It's tricky, when describing concepts of 50 Words for Snow, not to make it sound like a novelty album. - because it's really not. It is a beautifully executed record of well-paced and thoughtful storytelling. Bush's mostly austere compositions lend themselves well to the classical elements that will be well worth revisiting when the long, dark, cold nights arrive.


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