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Artist: Kate Bush
Label: Sony
Tracks:16 tracks
Kate Bush fans have had to wait a long time for Aerial, her latest release after the ill-received The Red Shoes in 1993.  The question is, was the wait worth it?  Well, that depends on which CD you're listening to.  Aerial is a double disc set, which starts with A Sea of Honey, a collection of cobbled together songs with mixed results.  "King of the Mountain" is a very weak start, with Kate slurring through a song about powerful pop culture icons like Charles Foster Kane and Elvis.  "Pi", a song about a man obsessed with the mathematical symbol doesn't fare much better.  But I found "Bertie," an ode to Bush's young son to be strongly affecting.  The lyrics are simple, such as: "you bring me so much joy and then you bring me more joy", but the combination of the string arrangements on this song, matched with Bush's lovely and impassioned vocals make it a standout.  "Mrs. Bartolozzi" is a puzzle, but beyond the controversy as to whether the song is merely about a woman washing clothes, or if there is a subtext of domesticity and insanity, is the fact that the actual song is grating to the nerves.  If the high pitched warbling of "washing machine, washing machine" doesn't force you reach for an aspirin, I don't know what will.  "How to be Invisible" is another standout, more reminiscent of Bush's past achievements, while "Joanni" and "A Coral Room" are mostly forgettable.
The second disc, A Sky of Honey, is a marvel of a concept album.  It takes place in a single day, from sunrise to sunset.  Yes, the birds that introduce the album and turn very Alfred Hitchcockesque at the end of the album are somewhat off-putting.  But keep listening; this album shows what this mature artist has evolved into musically, and what she is capable of.  The one drawback that makes itself apparent, besides the aforementioned birds, is the inclusion of the backing vocals on "The Painter's Link" and a few other songs.  The voices are Broadway theatrical and are a distraction. Be especially prepared to stop and savor "Sunset" and the lush and sprawling 8 and a half minute "Nocturn."  Fans and those new to Bush will not be disappointed by this beautiful disc.
The album also has great artwork and pictures of the artist and her son.  So, buy the album for the second disc, enjoy the artwork and browse through the first disc.  Aerial may not live up to hardcore Kate Bush fan's very high expectations, but I doubt anything could, and this proves that the artist still has much more to offer music fans.  
Bridget Schultz   2/3/2006


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