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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kate Bush - An album buried in snow
Two albums in a year from Kate Bush is some feat even if "Directors Cut" didn't quite hit the mark. Now there is the sullen crystalline beauty of "50 words for snow" an icy requiem to winter, snow, snowmen, drifts, Christmas and much more. This album has only seven songs but it exceeds an hour and centers on the creation of piano driven soundscapes that glisten and ripple...
Published on 21 Nov 2011 by Red on Black

versus
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Out of my intellectual range.
Never taken to jazz, my low intellect always thought it to be a form of spontaneous free wheeling that wasn't always successful. So to hear plodding jazzy piano for 68 mins was too much.

Some of Katherines more absurd ideas in the past have been carried by her unusual voice and the other worldly energy in her music. To idiots like me therefore the ridiculous...
Published 6 months ago by M. King


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kate Bush - An album buried in snow, 21 Nov 2011
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
Two albums in a year from Kate Bush is some feat even if "Directors Cut" didn't quite hit the mark. Now there is the sullen crystalline beauty of "50 words for snow" an icy requiem to winter, snow, snowmen, drifts, Christmas and much more. This album has only seven songs but it exceeds an hour and centers on the creation of piano driven soundscapes that glisten and ripple at a glacial pace. This is no traditional Santa ridden clichéd Christmas album. The chill moods of these songs are such that you almost see your breath in the winter air and feel the weight of snow-covered trees. It starts with "Snowflake" a stunning hymn to the little cloud droplets that echoes Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening". The songs haunting piano coda plays out over nearly ten minutes where Kate Bush's 13 year old son Bertie brings a eerie "Snowman" choirboy quality when he intones "I can see horses wading through snowdrifts/My broken hearts, my fabulous dances/My fleeting song, fleeting". Bush's insistant vocal is a joy which she then goes on to better in the next two exquisite songs that proceed against the backdrop of the musical whiteout. "Lake Tahoe" is over 11 minutes and starts with the dulcet tones of English counter tenor Stephan Roberts. Its piano meanders carving out blissful melodies over Kate Bush's best vocal on the album with a song infused with an almost Talk Talk ambience. Next up "Misty" is about the love of a human for a snowman, which suggests frivolity, but far from it. Starting like a jazz composition, Bush proceeds over nearly 14 minutes to chart the inevitable waning of doomed passion. Ultimately these three ballads are more akin to the type of moody but euphoric soundtracks produced by Thomas Newman. By any standards they represent an opening of near flawlessness and combined with the glorious finale to the album the sublime "Among angels" you could not ask for more brilliance from any musician. Overall these four songs stretch over forty minutes and could have been the entire album with a clear unifying theme.

Nevertheless it is a Kate Bush album and it would be uncharacteristic without a few indirect routes, quirky detours and some high frustration thrown in for good measure. The OK single "Wild Man" is the nearest here to her "traditional" style as she embarks on a Yeti hunt accompanied by Andy Fairweather Low. "Snowed in at Wheeler Street" is a duet with one of her heroes namely Sir Elton John. This reviewer is not a paid up member of his fan club and while you can recognise some of the soulful restraint he shows in the first part of this synth based song by the end it does feel overwrought and overcooked. The voices of these two singers are chalk and cheese and surely a rematch with Peter Gabriel would have been a better prospect for what is a great ballad on the brief encounters of two lovers over time? Finally the title track sees the ubiquitous Stephen Fry reciting 50 often made up words for snow over brilliant drumming by Steve Gadd and exhortations by Kate Bush with shouts of "come on man you got 44 to go". It is fun and Fry nicely downplays the linguistic gymnastics but after a couple of listens its utterly disposal. Granted then "50 words for snow" has real imperfections. Those desiring the brevity of a "Under the Ivy' or "Man with the child in his eyes" will find the elongated piano soundscapes challenging and the album lacking colour. But you must persist since they reveal more on each listen; nuances like the guitar strummed at 4 minutes on "Snowflake" or the Joni Mitchell influenced piano work on "Lake Tahoe". Kate Bush has captured the pristine fragile quality of snow in the same way that Vivaldi on the Four Seasons somehow seized the drama of icy rain in the winter Concerto No. 4. It is her strongest album in years and has rightly gained much critical praise. Ultimately its a winter not a Christmas album and like the season itself it captures both its warmth and chill.
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214 of 233 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What to make of all these conflicting reviews.., 2 Dec 2011
By 
Andrew (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
If you've been reading the reviews of this album you'll notice quite a striking dichotomy. Most professional reviewers and many here at Amazon give it a full 5 stars, but then there are a significant number who actively dislike the album, handing out a 1 star accompanied by a slew of derisory comments.

What to make of it?

Well, if you're after pop songs and easily accessible melodies you may well be disappointed. Instead this record takes a more extended modern classical or jazz approach. It's subtle and it's a definite grower.

Personally after initially being a little nonplussed I really love it a lot now. Lyrically it's particularly strong and really creates an atmosphere of the season. Currently it's probably my favourite listen of 2011.

So, if you are open to a high quality subtle slow burner (and a great winter album for years to come), go ahead and buy (a quick listen/sample will not reveal its charms). If however you're after something more immediate maybe give this one a miss.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kate As Good As Ever, 2 Oct 2014
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This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
I put off buying this album for a couple of years as the excerpts I heard left me wondering whether I'd like it. I've been a KB fan for the entirety of her career so it didn't come easy to ignore one of her offerings. I finally took the plunge and I'm glad I did. The music is beautifully arranged with sonorous piano all the way through. It's a concept album so those wanting instant gratification may be disappointed or give up after a couple of listens. This grows on you as any good music should rather than being instantly accessed and finally ignored. The music feels 'grown up' and well rounded as well as atmospheric. My favourite is Lake Tahoe which I think is the most interestingly composed song on the CD. Excellent - just hope there's more to come.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Kate's magical winter wonderland, 23 Nov 2011
This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
Being a fan of all Kate's albums, it feels that she has in some ways come full circle, returning to the evocative simplicity of her early work but creating new moods and atmospheres that are fresh and intriguing. After listening to this for a few weeks, it has a special meaning to me. I often play it as a late evening chill out.

Just listening to her in the latest radio interviews, Kate clearly has never seemed happier and her musical Mojo remains undimmed. It seems she already has ideas for her next project and we will be hearing of her more often in the years ahead.

Not so much a collection of songs, but 7 short story 'tone poems'. I welcome Kate's experiment with longer song structures to lose oneself in.

Whilst I would admit this is not an album of catchy seasonal ditties, this album needs patience and repeated listens in order to fully appreciate its beauty. Kate is an artist who produces work on her own terms, free from the shackles of the demands of fan blogs and the music industry establishment.

My general impressions: Shut out the world, put on this album and immerse yourself for an hour uninterrupted in Kate's winter wonderland. Despite only a few listens, new details and elements of the stories are starting to develop in my head. This work is so organic, evocative and dreamy. Forget your troubles and the recession, just escape into Kate's alternative world.

Snowflake: Kate views snow as a substance transforming a landscape or garden with its physical beauty. Kate finds the world so loud and 'lowest common denominator' sometimes, whilst snowflakes are all unique and individual. With repeated listenings, the repeated piano and Bertie motifs become less intrusive and ghostly sounding electronic keyboard details emerge from the mix. Love's Steve Gadds evocation of horses through snowdrifts.

Lake Tahoe: Perhaps the most ambitious song on the album, Kate giving the song an almost classical feel. Stefan Roberts makes a memorable contribution, his opening lines remind me of the end of Hello Earth from the album Hounds of Love. The haunting theme of a dog's almost mythical journey to be reunited with its owner is simple yet atmospheric and moving. This is Kate at her storytelling best.

Misty: I love the almost jazzy feel of Steve Gadd's sunlime drum work. The sequence 'I turn off the light, switch on a starry night' is almost akin to an out of body experience, makes me think of the scene in the film Little Voice, when we first see Jane Horrocks character singing/playing music in her bedroom. 'When I kiss his ice-cream lips' is Kate at her musically bonkers best!!!

Wild Man: The most pop-oriented and perhaps the most immediately accessible track on the album, marking perhaps the beginning of the albums second section. Steve Gadd's hypnotic drums, Andy Fairweather Low's full and throaty chorus and Del Palmer's bells are highlights. Kate's interpretation is an intriguing mix of fear, pity and intrigue for the mythical Yeti.

Snowed In At Wheeler Street: Whilst not particularly well versed in the music of Elton John and despite the controversy evinced by some fans, I think this really does 'work', particularly with Elton's soulful delivery. The idea of the love and loss of friends and lovers by humanity as a universal trait through the centuries is great. Love Kate's increasingly frantic vocal towards the end.

50 Words For Snow: No Kate album is ever complete without a lighter, fun moment. Wacky, this song follows in the tradition of the Big Sky and the song Aerial, whilst keeping to this album's feel. I don't think this track needs to be over-analysed.

Among Angels: A return to the piano-based delivery of the first 3 songs, it is clearly not about snow. Quite simply this song is to me one of the most moving songs she has ever written in her whole career. There is an underlying theme of personal loss, perhaps partly inspired by the recent death of her father, but I feel there is a more general message, about self-belief. We often overlook that the beginnings of a resolution to inner conflicts lies within our own souls.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Kate's music but somehow didn't buy this album until ..., 7 Nov 2014
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This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
I love Kate's music but somehow didn't buy this album until a couple of weeks ago. At first listen I thought I wasn't going to be able to get into it. However, i decided to put on my reading glasses, really appreciate what she was saying by reading the lyrics and now I am completely hooked and haven't stopped playing it! The poetry is exquisite and I would urge anyone not to judge this until reading the lyrics and then, by magic, the album is transformed. Such a beautiful piece of work. Absolutely enthralling and so glad I bought it!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A return to form, 21 Jan 2013
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This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
I have been a Kate Bush fan for over 30 years and thought her best was behind her. After a 12 year absence I thought Aerial disappointing and let's not even go there with the dreadful Director's Cut.
However 50 Words For Snow while listened to watching the snow yesterday was a fabulous experience. There is some really off the wall stuff on this album and that is what we love about Kate. While Aerial was safe and undemanding, 50 Words finds KB finding her inner madness once again through snow.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant!, 28 Jan 2013
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This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
I absolutely love this album and my wife absolutely hates it. So this seems to follow the Marmite trend of most of the reviews here. I am old enough to remember the original Kate Bush material from the 70's and I cant say I liked everythig she did, but I always though of her as an incredible talent. I am not a professional music reviewer so I cant really describe this without sounding totally pretentious, but I would have describe this album as sublime. It is quiet, soulful and hypnotic and just totally got under my skin from the first time I heard it. On the other hand my wife says its dreary and miserable, and she is a KB fan. I recommend to at least give it a couple of listens.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kate on thin ice? NO!, 20 April 2012
By 
T. tremmel "TADGE" (HONG KONG) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
Have to say this has been the hardest Kate album to ' get into' for me. Startling, unexpected, weird and compelling. She seems to play with voice and landscape like she did with 'the dreaming', and I am old enough to remember the negative press that received! Some real highlights and some tracks that meander along. Seems to me Kate has nothing to prove anymore, this feels like a personal project that she has decided to share with us. Got to say the cover and artwork is the worst yet, I miss the fabulous photography of JCB. Ignore the crappy reviews ( you will notice mostly they were our days after the albums release and the more sensible and measured ones written later) . Some fans want Kate to do a hounds of love 2. Listening to this album is a challenge and requires concentration and some faith from you the listener, but the rewards are worthwhile with Kate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully crafted album, 13 Oct 2014
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This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
Beautifully crafted album by KBush. Very pleasantly surprised and loved it after the first listen. She's extremely talented and always has been. The musical arrangements and varied vocals are terrific. I wouldn't have matched her voice with Elton John but the tracks great. Well worth the money even if you aren't a follower of this extraordinary artiste.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It was great to have 'Among Angels' featured in the Before The ..., 22 Sep 2014
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This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
Well worth the wait after all these years. It may take some time for some of it to grow on you but once it does, WOW! Don't be too quick to dismiss this release. It was great to have 'Among Angels' featured in the Before The Dawn live shows @ Hammersmith.
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50 Words for Snow
50 Words for Snow by Kate Bush (Audio CD - 2011)
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