Throughout her career, icon Kate Bush has left a number of detailed soundscapes in her wake; something akin to miniature, exquisitely crafted snowglobes of emotion, if you will. Fittingly, then, Bush’s new album 50 Words for Snow finds the chanteuse singing hymns to not only the season, but to her entire career.
Calling these songs hymns isn’t a misnomer. Indeed, you might think you’re listening to a modish version of the Gregorian chanting monks in the track Lake Tahoe. Meanwhile, Snowed In At Wheeler Street offers a lingering duet featuring a haunting Elton John vocal; Bush’s music and living legacy as an artist has the respect of her peers and her contemporaries in spades here, and it shows. Moreover, with this album, it’s clear that she’s adept at creating slow, gorgeous song-stories that take their time to unfold. They are, in essence, pieces that revel in themselves without bothering to revel in the past.
Not that she’s an artist that needs to revisit the past to capture long-ago glory, mind you. Bush’s voice, after all these years, is astonishingly preserved — listening to her precision on this record is often the aural equivalent of cutting glass with a diamond. There is virtually no difference in her vocals between now and 1978’s The Kick Inside, released when she was a mere 19 years old.
50 Words for Snow offers Bush at her prime; beyond a collection of songs just for completist fans, it’s an album that’s more than likely to nab her a new generation of devotees.