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Thursday, August 7, 2014

50 Words For Kate: #20 - Sensual

"This is definitely my most personal, honest album. And I think it's my most female album, in that I feel maybe I'm not trying to prove something in terms of a woman in a man's world..."

Thanks to the enormous commercial success of Hounds Of Love, Kate Bush's sixth studio album, The Sensual World, had a huge weight of expectation hanging over it. Again the gap between releases stretched, with four years passing before its release in October 1989. No concept pieces this time, but Kate described the album as being ten short stories. There was also a definite shift in tone from her previous album. It had an air of thoughtfulness and introspection, with the exploration of relationships at the core of many of the songs.

Kate's subject matter was as eclectic as always. We have an accidental dance date with Hitler, an affair with a computer program, and dress as a firework and get launched from Waterloo bridge. In The Fog, Kate sings about the pains of growing up and the inevitable wrench from our parents. With its watery theme it could easily slot into The Ninth Wave as another echo of the past meeting the present. A lot of the album reads like a deep conversation in the early hours of the morning, when we wax philosophical about our lives and loves.

One track though was deliberately created by Kate to lift our spirits. Reaching Out came from a conversation Kate had with someone, where they described a star exploding. Taken with the image, Kate constructed one of her simplest lyrics and most straightforward melodies. The resulting song is no slight thing; it is half lullaby, half anthem. The strings, arranged by Michael Kamen, are just glorious. Many fans thought this an obvious single on hearing the album, but Kate disagreed.

Kate instead plumped for one of the more lyrically and musically complex tracks as the third and final single from the album (the title track and This Woman's Work had preceded it). Kate herself admitted she didn't really know what Love And Anger was about. It was one of the first songs written for the album, but one of the last to be finished. Listening to the track, it does feel a little capricious, but that's the main reason I love it. For me the song is about how sometimes we feel things very deeply, but are unable to express them clearly. Not everything in life can be neatly packaged and tied with a bow.

There was one other element of The Sensual World that was simply extraordinary. I'll tell you about that tomorrow...

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