Kate Bush is back, and in half the time it took to deliver her last album, 2005's Aerial. This go round, however, doesn't really bring about any new material, but re-imaginings of old songs. Hence the title, Director's Cut. I wasn't sure what to think, all of the songs are taken from two albums, The Sensual World and The Red Shoes. I can honestly say that The Red Shoes, for a long time, was my least favorite Kate album, if I were to rank it at all.
Then, when the first single, Deeper Understanding, was announced, excitement gave way to puzzlement as I listened to the shock of an auto-tuned Kate Bush. I liked the original well enough and, oddly, this update is starting to grow on me, for better or worse. Upon first listen, though, I was pretty much wondering...WTF? Has she completely lost it?
As I listen to that, and the rest of the album, I find myself enjoying it, for the most part. The past couple years has seen my stance soften regarding The Red Shoes. I had read some different articles and posts that gave me a different perspective on the album, and I tried to open up to it a little bit more. Maybe she had changed while I kept expecting her to make The Dreaming or Hounds of Love over and over again. Maybe it's up to me to change with the artist and join her on her journey.
In any case, I feel like Director's Cut is a worthwhile excursion on the whole. A couple of her experiments I'm not on board with at the time of this posting:
1) The "wop bam boom" bit in Song of Solomon. Listen to the song, you can't miss it. I have no idea what that's all about and I feel like it detracts from what is a pretty good song.
2) The auto tune part of Deeper Understanding still trips me out but, as I mentioned, it's kinda growing on me. I guess it just felt so unexpected at first, maybe the shock is wearing off.
3) The last thing is the re-working of Rubberband Girl. That was one of the two or three songs from The Red Shoes that I did enjoy. This version totally strips it down and turns it into a 70s style excursion. It almost sounds like that dude from Canned Heat is fronting The Rolling Stones, complete with harmonica. Now, that combination may not be a bad thing in itself, but coming from Kate Bush? I dunno, perhaps I'll come around to like/love it at some point, but right now it just sounds so out of place.
Not to dwell on the negative, I will leave you with her re-imagining of This Woman's Work. After the surprise of Deeper Understanding, I was initially afraid to listen to this one. I think, if you ask around, most Kate Bush fans will highly rate This Woman's Work. Well, I rate it, anyway. It's simply a gorgeous song with heartbreaking lyrics and a melody that will have tears welling up in your eyes. A classic, for sure; so why tamper with perfection?
Surprise, surprise, this new version works, in my ears. It's twice as long as the original, even more subdued and has a kinda ambient Music for Airports feel to it. She almost whispers the lyrics at some points, her voice trailing off as if she's weary from an emotional battle that has finally broken her. I really, really like this version. Seriously, I got chills listening to it the other day. It totally makes up for whatever it is that I don't like about the album. Which leads me to think that she probably hasn't lost it at all. I'm just not on her plane of existence. Viva Kate.
Kate Bush - This Woman's Work (Director's Cut version)
Julianna Barwick, and I'm totally glad we were there. Her set was ethereal, captivating and so very cool. I don't know the specifics of it, but she sings into something that keeps looping her voice until it sounds like you're listening to a heavenly choir. Believe me, it sounds much, much better than my description of it. Although the music is mainly driven by her voice, but there is some instrumentation to be found. Her album is called The Magic Place, and it more than lives up to that title.
Julianna Barwick - Prizewinning
Julianna Barwick - Prizewinning