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May 02

KATE BUSH — ‘This Woman’s Work’

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KATE BUSH — ‘This Woman’s Work’

What Isabel likes about Bush is her range — ‘lots of variety; most of your CDs get boring after a few tracks’ — and I kind of agree, though one Kate Bush song is more like another Kate Bush song than it is anything much else. What I like is her practicality. Which is to say, her best tracks are very compact and unfussy — she packs maximum drama (in the stage sense) into a short time. With ‘Wuthering Heights’ or ‘Breathing’ or ‘Babushka’ she pushes a story into a four-minute box and those tracks can seem a little flushed as a result. With ‘Cloudbusting’ or ‘The Hounds Of Love’ or this track she’s learnt the trick of implying a backstory and a resolution, so these songs feel like the moments of absolute importance within a wider, more mysterious narrative (a life, even).

But also practical in the sense that a Bush song can often be used flexibly — ‘Hounds Of Love’ you can drunkenly giggle about and leap around to and shiver at as the occasion suggests — or all at the same time if you like. Maybe that flexibility is missing from ‘This Woman’s Work’, which I think would hush a party or be defeated by one. The song and its singing is very beautiful — more so 13 years on as the backing synthesizers feel so awkward — and the opening sigh-swoon captures some of the delightful un-fixedness I want from a Bush record. But mostly this seems a different, more straightforward, kind of excellence.

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