Sound — 9
Following the release of her classic Hounds of Love album in 1985, 1989's The Sensual World had big shoes to fill. Kate Bush had her own studio which allowed her more freedom and expression than ever before. The first and title track is a brilliant example of her confidence in sound, creating a soothing soundscape over a beautiful melody. The song includes Irish instrumentation (Uilleann pipes, fiddle, whistle) a retracing of her Irish roots. By utilizing the Trio Bulgarka from Bulgaria, Kate is expanding her musical horizons to a more worldly sense. "Rocket's Tail" could have been a trainwreck, combining heavy guitar from Pink Floyd's David Gilmor and the strong vocals of the Bulgarian singers. Yet it stands as one of her most brilliant compositions, both experimental and epic. Yet she is able to also capture a simplistic energy with the freeform "Love and Anger" which breathes so naturally out of her voice. While the album doesn't have many strong singles compared to her previous albums, the songs themselves are just as strong emotionally and just as experimental. "The Sensual World" reached 12 on the UK charts, while "Love and Anger" reached the number one spot on the US Billboard Moder Rock Track, her first and only US chart topper. Overall, the album's sound never falters, and every track is so different from the other that it never gets boring.
Lyrics — 9
Kate Bush is one of the most literate minds in the music industry today and shows her full lyrical and vocal potential on The Sensual World. Drawing inspiration from James Joyce's novel "Ulysses", the title track is a great example of art rock at its best. Never one to change with the industry's ideas of pop music, Kate pushes lyrical boundries with "The Fog" and "Deeper Understanding", two tracks that deal with personal issues such as parental issues and technolgy obsession. "Heads We're Dancing" may be one of her most strange pieces since 1982's The Dreaming, but it sure is quite fun. Her dark since of humour shows prominantly, featuring a woman dancing with a stranger, who turns out to be Hitler. Kate is certainly not bending to the industry at all, but she still manages to capture emotion with the album's final and most powerful track, "This Woman's Work". Kate draws on themes of regret and selfishness, culminating into her screeching female chorus of "All those things I should have given/ But I didn't. Oh darling make it go away/ Just make it go away now". It's a truly touching and enganging piece of art, a perfect end to a nearly flawless album.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, even though The Sensual World had huge shoes to fill after her previous album Hounds of Love, it certainly met expectations of both fans and even newcomers across the sea in the US. "This Woman's Work" is one of the most beautiful songs ever written, showcasing a beautiful voice that we will never see the likes of ever again. Kate Bush is one of the most uninque and special artist that the UK will ever produce. Many female songwriters are indebt to this pioneering woman.