Kate Bush

Columbia Records, 2005

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Let's take a moment for historical perspective before we begin this review.

The last time Kate Bush released a CD, 1993's The Red Shoes, the number one song for the year was "A Whole New World" from the Disney movie Aladdin. The Internet was an infant. Bill Clinton was one year into his eight-year presidency; Conservative John Major was three years into his seven year tenure as Prime Minister of Great Britain. We had not heard of 9/11, home convection ovens, the Playstation 2 or the XBox, Paris Hilton, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Emeril Lagasse, or ANY of the damned Simpson sisters.

The last time Kate Bush released what in this reviewer's opinion was a GOOD CD (1989's The Sensual World) was even further back.

So despite the fact I'm a fan, it was really hard for me to envision (or is that ensound?) what a new Kate Bush CD would sound like. I mean, it's been twelve years; Kate's gotten married, had a kid, and (one assumes) grown up. Having always appeared somewhat ethereal, a creature of Faerie and fancy, what would that kind of grounding do to her sound?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

One word: breathtaking.

This is not the Kate Bush we all remember. If I could put it in spiritual or mythological terms, Kate's moved from Maiden to Mother. There is a simple strength to her sound that was not there before. Her website calls this the most difficult album she's ever done, and I can see why; Aerial is almost naked in its documentation of Kate's maturity and growth. There are still moments of typical Kate fancy, but this is stripped down, basic, and simply beautiful.

This is a much more acoustic CD than anything Kate's done before. There's a lot of times when it's just her and her piano, clear documentation of the sound that everyone from Tori Amos to Vanessa Carlton has built on. It's also a gentler CD; the production spare and elegant, the instrumentation somewhat muted. There's no "The Big Sky" or "Constellation Of The Heart" here; Aerial is introspective and pristine in its simplicity.

But oh, the songs. And oh, the voice.

Kate's voice is even greater than it was before. She may have lost a couple of notes in the higher register; somehow I doubt she could hit those dog-torturing crescendos in "Wuthering Heights" nowadays, though I might be wrong. But when she opens up and sings -- the intro of the unbelievably lovely "Nocturn" comes to mind -- there's a sense of barely restrained power and of wonder. This is not the girl who sang "James And The Cold Gun"; this is a woman in her full power, and it's a magnificent thing.

The songs and the lyrics are wonderful as well. Aerial is, in many ways, a succession of powerful images. An entire love song to what I presume is her son ("Bertie"); the incredible poetry of "Learning To Be Invisible" ('You stand in front of a million doors / And each one holds a million more / Corridors that lead to the world of the invisible / Corridors that twist and turn / Corridors that blister and burn'); "The Painter's Link," "The Architect's Dream" -- if there is a theme to Aerial, it's about frozen moments of time. And it's wonderful.

Get this CD. Now. It's exhilarating, sobering, and a true work of art.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2005 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.