Sound: For those who are old enough to remember, Kate Bush burst onto the UK music scene with her explosive and unique single "Wuthering Heights" in 1978. While she also achieved worldwide success, the US never seemed to give her the popularity she deserved. However, the past few years have been good to Bush. Both male and female songwriters across the globe are now name-checking her as a major influence. Yet, her work extends far beyond the "singer-songwriter" genre. "Johnny Rotten" cites her as a major influence on punk because of her daring, originality in the face of corporate control. (In her case, EMI Music).
"Kate Bush is a true original. It's not nice that she's been imitated - Torrid Aimless, sorry Tori Amos. But Kate Bush is a genuine talent. She went through the same shit I did when she started: "Oh, that's not singing". Who the f--k wrote the rules about music? Why follow this slavish idiocy?" - John Lydon
After the release of the enormously successful double album "Aerial" in 2005, Bush once again steered clear of the public eye, raising her young son. While she gives the impression of a recluse, her true intentions are not so vague. She honestly doesn't understand the celebrity obsession and instead wants the focus on the work she's created. A French literary critic, Roland Barthes once wrote an essay about "The Death Of The Author", detailing:
"To give a text an Author" and assign a single, corresponding interpretation to it "is to impose a limit on that text".
Indeed, Bush's intention when recording her first album was not to be famous. She cares deeply about her work, and "Director's Cut", her first album in more than five years, comes across as an emotional and personal statement about art. The album is composed of eleven songs, seven from 1993's "The Red Shoes" and four from 1989's "The Sensual World". Bush, once again has it her way in this wild, changing music industry by revisiting tracks she wanted to improve upon. And this reviewer is certainly glad she did.
The album begins with the gorgeous "Flower Of The Mountain", originally titled "The Sensual World". Bush did away with some of the muddy, yet lush arrangements from the original and made her voice front and center. "Song Of Solomon" and "The Red Shoes" both take on an intense tribal feel that is immensely appealing. For those who miss Kate's wailing and shrieking, "Lily" showcases that the woman still hasn't lost her love of batty, wild music. The soundscape quiets down for three tracks in a row with "This Woman's Work", "Moments Of Pleasure" and "Never Be Mine". The first is possibly Bush's most well known song in the US, one that many fans worried about. The original was famous for its disturbing backing vocals building to the song's climax, something she does away with for this version. All three are much calmer, more settled in their individual grief, or appreciation for life. The final song, "Rubberband Girl" is perhaps the most loose Bush has ever been in her entire career. It comes across as a nice, old Stones song recorded after heavy alcohol intake. The sound quality is not the best, but that adds to the sheer originality of such a daring ending. // 10
Lyrics: In 1993, Bush frowned about thinking of herself as a musician. Instead, she considered herself a writer with music as a form of expression. While it's unclear where she stand on that topic now (she dislikes quotes, finding the dangerous), her biggest influences don't often stem from other musicians. Instead, Bush's influences include dance and film. Director's such as Alfred Hitchcock and Michael Powell have had a lasting impression on her work, because each piece she writes and records presents itself as a little piece of film. She's a sound master, adding layer upon layer of gorgeous, often disturbing noises, but also can write lyrics like no one else.
"Flower Of The Mountain" is taken direct from James Joyce's novel "Ulysses" and Bush perfectly captures the sensuality of life through the soliloquy. Her storytelling abilities have improved since the songs' inceptions, especially on "The Red Shoes". The song is an invitation to dance, but at a price. It's influenced heavily by the Michael Powell film of the same name, and Bush creates a menacing landscape of sound, thus creating her own little film.
The first single off the album, "Deeper Understanding" is perhaps the most literal of all her songs on the album (Check out the music video featuring Robbie Coltrane from "Harry Potter" and Noel Fielding!). The song deals with computer obsession and trying to find deeper understanding through technology, instead of human interaction. Yet, while the man in the song suffers an odd fate, nowhere does Bush ever directly condemn any human actions. In this case, she is very "anti-punk". Perhaps, as we grow older, we don't want to always here young people telling us what to do and think. We like to hear the story and make our own imaginations run with it. The fact that everyone creates a different film in their head for her songs show that she has found success as an artist. // 10
Overall Impression: After listening to the album on NPR, I was speechless for quite awhile. The album is full of cinematic imagery and an unrelenting energy. Kate Bush is not an artist for everyone, nor she she strive to be. Instead, the people who react most strongly to her music are the ones with wild imaginations: the ones who can see the pictures Bush tries to paint. It's a unique release, but that's to be expected from Bush: the unexpected. It's the best movie I've seen all year. // 10