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Monday, July 28, 2014

50 Words For Kate: #30 - Hunting

"...this album for me is like two quite separate pieces of work..."

As a fan waiting to hear a new Kate Bush album, you're never quite sure what to expect. Kate's voice is a constant, of course, but even that has changed and matured over the years. After the dark intensity of The Dreaming, and the drama of Running Up That Hill, I remember expecting another exciting and challenging listen from Kate's fifth album. Instead she delivered something that was instantly accessible, stirring and powerful.

The publicity surrounding the release of Hounds Of Love made it clear that the album contained two discrete suites of songs. The first side (and they were physically separate in those days, no CDs or downloads, you had to turn the record over or flip the cassette) had five separate songs, each telling their own story. As for side two, well, we'll deal with that tomorrow...

I remember placing the album on the turntable on day of release and settling down to listen. I was glad Running Up That Hill was the first track, as I knew that inside out by now and it gave me a chance to calm down. My relaxed state lasted about three seconds into the next track.

It's in the trees! It's coming!

Has any song ever had such a gripping introduction? I shot up and inched to the edge of my bed, my hands gripping the mattress. Kate was being hunted! She was afraid and running for her life. Cellos and drums created an urgency that swept you along, side-by-side with Kate, looking nervously over your shoulder. You pause for breath and find a fox on the edge of life. You throw your shoes into the lake, but the Hounds Of Love are still on your tail. They're going to catch us! But then Kate realises the truth. She faces the hounds, and her fears, and is rewarded with love love love love love love yeah.

You never understood me, you never really tried...

We've barely caught our breath before Kate taps us on the shoulder and points us towards The Big Sky. This song is a glorious release of all the tension, disappointment, criticism and expectation that Kate must have felt after The Dreaming. It's a rallying call for anyone who's ever needed a renewal of faith in themselves. Forget what others think of you, what do they really know? Look up at the clouds, let your imagination fly, dream big. Up! Up!

Am I the cat that takes the bird? To her the hunted, not the hunter...

The sound of smashing glass alerts us to trouble. The lies come tumbling out, the child is pulled into more mischief, but this time it's gone too far. Never fear, Mother Stands For Comfort. Has the bond between mother and child ever sounded so unsettling?

You're like my yo-yo that glowed in the dark, what made it special made it dangerous...

We escape that troubling parent-child relationship and are faced with another that also has its problems. This time though the child is trying to make sense of what happened to their father. There is confusion, hurt and mystery. There is also hope and belief and, eventually, joy. The song grows organically from a single voice and hypnotic strings. The sounds become richer, there are drums, multiple voices, we rally, we march, we sing, it rains and rains, we collapse, spent and warm with love.

Side one is over, what a journey that was. I need to hear it again. And again and again. So many questions, so many new sounds and perspectives and riddles. But first I need to hear side two...

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