50 Words for Snow
Given Kate Bush’s proto-Björkian creativity, it will come as no surprise to discover that this album runs from the sublime to the ridiculous, and usually both at the same time. The subject matter ranges from the thoughts of a snowflake (surprisingly deep, it turns out) to, in ‘Misty’, an unusual take on The Snowman.
The arrangements are stunning. But the famously reticent singer sometimes hides behind a varied, and variable, collection of guest vocalists. Bush’s early inspiration, Elton John, is on unusually soulful form on the tender duet ‘Snowed in at Wheeler Street’, while on ‘50 Words…’ Stephen Fry turns up, reciting a half-century of ‘witty’ synonyms for the titular precipitate. But whether she’s front of stage or not, Bush is always the centrepiece of the song. While her voice has clearly matured (which is a nice way of saying she sounds like she’s been on the Rothmans), she still manages to outshine the other players quite easily thanks to the unmistakable character of her vocals and delivery.