2011 may be remembered by some as the year when notably reclusive English singer-songwriter Kate Bush released not one album, but two: a reworking of previous material (Director’s Cut) and her first album of original material in six years, 50 Words for Snow. The title track draws its inspiration from the common urban legend that there are fifty Inuit words for snow, and the album as a whole exists in this middle ground between fantasy and fact, reality and myth.
A quiet melancholy lies at the center of many of the songs on 50 Words for Snow, a sadness smartly offset by the wondrous “Snowflake” (a duet between Bush and her son Albert) and the slyly humorous cameo by Stephen Fry on the title track. No matter how allegorical songs like “Lake Tahoe” might get, they are anchored by Bush’s jazz-inspired piano, which feels like Vince Guaraldi’s more contemplative cousin while retaining its player’s own idiosyncratic voice. A work rich in both metaphor and sentiment, 50 Words for Snow confirms that no matter how long it takes Kate Bush to record an album, the result is always worth the wait.