Director’s Cut: Seán’s first impressions…

Director’s Cut – some first impressions…

Seán - photo by Krystyna Fitzgerald-Morris

What a lovely afternoon. The sun was shining brightly here in Dublin when I went along to the offices of EMI Ireland to hear Director’s Cut. The fine weather only added to the joy and excitement I felt. A new Kate Bush album. It actually didn’t feel as if much time had passed since the last time I found myself in the same building, at a playback of Aerial in 2005. I’ll never forget that day, my head full of bird-song and clothes line imagery. I floated out afterwards. I’m very glad to report that my feet weren’t quite touching the ground either as I left to catch the bus after hearing Director’s Cut. I was grinning from ear to ear. This was another album I knew I would be happily spending a considerable portion of 2011 with.

I suppose the nature of this project has thrown a few fans from what I’ve been reading online. There’s been a lot of talk about original versions, and what Kate was “doing” to them. “What if she changed this? How could she ever top that? What’s the point of revisiting such a perfect song?” Kate will have her own reasons for doing this record at this time, and no doubt the coming interviews will shed fascinating light on her motives. All I know is that on my very first listen I experienced each song on this album as a fresh, beguiling new entity. At no point did I weigh up which bits were “changed” or “missing”, I really wasn’t thinking about those cherished recordings from The Sensual World and The Red Shoes. I was too busy enjoying these Director’s Cut songs,  each one washing over me as a new, satisfying musical moment in itself. The album, as a whole, works beautifully and there’s a few reasons for this.

The production feels consistently bright, punchy, direct and full of oxygen. The windows have been opened up, the tracks breathe in an exhilarating way. Kate’s determination to work this way when she created Aerial is continued into this album. Kate’s vocal performances are my favourite thing on this album, which might seem like a mindlessly obvious thing to say, but I lost count of the many surprising and new ways in which she uses her voice. Kate sings in her deepest tones yet on And So is Love, adding an even “wiser” layer to this meditation on the nature of love and life, before her voice soars upwards again towards the end. A fist punching the air moment for this listener. A glorious John-Lydon-esque moment in Lily where she repeats the word “darkness” was a particular favourite. Kate becomes Molly Bloom in Flower of the Mountain, the directness of Molly’s dreamy stream of consciousness captivated me. The wistful, rambling thoughts of Leopold’s wife tumble out of Kate’s mouth in earthy, confessional tones as the pulsating rhythm somehow suggests Molly’s quickening heartbeat.

The way Kate uses silence in this record works brilliantly. Two memorable instances spring to mind; once in The Song of Solomon and another time during her utterly different reading of This Woman’s Work, the choral backing reaching an almost agonising intensity before instantly cutting out. For some weird reason, and films are a conceptual thread with this project after all, I pictured that moment in Close Encounters of the Third Kind when Richard Dreyfuss is in his truck at the railway crossing and his turbulent encounter with the UFO comes to an abrupt, breathtaking end. Well, I told you these were first impressions! I loved the new This Woman’s Work, by the way, so delicate with the keyboard acting almost as points and splashes of light in parts.

Many people have picked up on the ‘live’ feel of Deeper Understanding and this is another consistent strength of this record. I felt as if I had been invited to sit in the audience of a concert performance, a special event, with all the immediacy and sense of connection that comes with that. In Moments of Pleasure, the quietest song on the album, there’s a section that made me gasp – it’s as if Kate gives a knowing nod to the people who love this song, and hands it over to us. If I’d had a cigarette lighter at that moment, it would have been lit and held aloft. I sincerely hope we’ll be treated to this song, performed this way, in a live setting some time in the future.  Steve Gadd, who drums on most of the tracks here, is my new hero. The other, no-doubt-about-it, shining stars showcased on this record are the glorious Trio Bulgarka. Their performances from the two original albums really help to cement this new album together. It’s fantastic to hear them again in these new settings. Never Be Mine, full of fascinating new flourishes, is one song I cannot wait to explore much more deeply.

So, after one listening, what was the overall experience like? This may change, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had just watched a classic music performance film in my head, something like ‘The Last Waltz’.  What absolutely sealed this impression was the closing song, Rubberband Girl. In my imagining this was the KT Bush Band circa ’77 having a  lot of fun doing a pre-gig sound check in a pub, and it formed the “end credits” of this imagined film of mine. Perfection. The song is completely re-worked, absolutely thrilling, and so unexpected…the hallmark of Kate Bush, delicious stuff.

What an album. Thank you, Kate, Del and everyone involved in this record.

26 Responses to Director’s Cut: Seán’s first impressions…

  1. Beautiful review. May 16 can’t get here fast enough!

  2. Nico says:

    Wow Seán! What a lovely experience and review! I’m looking forward to listening to the album! Oh so exciting!

  3. Gene-Manuel says:

    Thank YOU Seán for this wonderful sneak peak at Director’s Cut! I was tempted not to read it since I wanted my own first impression but then decided that I’d still have that once I get the record. I was looking forward to it and now, after reading your post, I am literally holding my breath! What a wonderful experience for you and how lucky we are to get to know your first reaction to Kate’s new work.
    It’s a wonderful time to be a Kate Bush fan!!!

  4. Karen Newcombe says:

    Great review, Seán, you have given us a taste of what to expect without “giving away the store.” Will May EVER get here?? ~Karen

  5. Mike Wade says:

    Thank you.

    Look forward to it all the more.

    Mike x

  6. Tony says:

    Thank you Seán for sharing your listening experience with us ! I cannot wait to hear these already wonderful songs in their new and updated settings. Roll on May 16th……..

  7. Millais says:

    What an enjoyable reading passage, Seán.
    Thank you so much for these ‘moments of pleasure’…

  8. atoz says:

    holy crap – i’m so excited!!

  9. Linda cork says:

    I wish I could write so gracefully , so
    Articulate , well done x

  10. Ken says:

    All I can say is, Thanks so much to David Gilmour! Can’t wait!

  11. You lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky…..person

  12. Bron says:

    Lovely review Sean – so looking forward to it!

  13. Gabriella says:

    oh Sean , the sound of what you discbribe of kates new album DC, i cant wait!!!
    from what you said ..of what you heard … all the songs have there own new outlook on life again …
    amazing review ( and not giving away to much ) thank you again:)

    you lucky guy…;)
    peace love gabigirl

  14. kurt birsch says:

    Fantastic review – thank you Sean (lucky so and so!)
    Now ready for my Close Encounter moment. Bring it on and let it take me away.
    Really looking forward to this album.
    cheers Kurt

  15. Sky says:

    Top review, so eloquent and overflowing with colour and light. I expect to be amazed on 16 May. xx

  16. fleasus says:

    Hi Seán – as someone who’s avidly avoiding “spoilers” (listening to 30-second clips on iTunes must be like buying a new book and reading a page from each chapter!) this review really whets the appetite for the album without giving too much away but is also a reminder that your website is really the one to trust. Thanks for a pitch-perfect review and I look forward to hearing the rich and fascinating experience Kate has in store for all of us. Tea and cake all round. fleas xx

  17. David Legrand says:

    Thank you Sean for this very nice description and review of “Director’s Cut”, I just can’t wait to listen to this album… and yes we have to consider it as a complete new album and make total abstraction of the original versions we know so well.
    All the very best
    David

  18. bitsy von muffling says:

    merci sean from france – we await in anticapation xxx

  19. julian says:

    It was very kind of the local authorities to let you out of the mental hospital on day release to listen to Kate’s album. I hope matron insists you take your medication tonight.

  20. H.R. Hudson says:

    Thank you Sean for your wonderful review of “Director’s Cut”!! I’ve already marked May 16th on my calendar!!

  21. Tim says:

    Wonderful review! Can’t wait for the release on May 16th. after all these snippets & teasers!

  22. Lim Wee Ping says:

    Love your review. And very envy of you that get to listen. Really can’t wait for Kate. Can’t wait to listen to all the songs!!!

  23. Barbara says:

    I like the idea of the new Rubberband Girl serving as a closing credit sequence – just as long as some dozy continuity announcer doesn’t bugger it up with ‘Coming up after the break…’!

  24. Barbara Komar says:

    Lovely!
    Just reading you experiencing Kate is bliss! I am a vinyl fan and can’t wait to listen to it on my stereo! When is that May 16 coming already?!
    Lot’s of love to you Sean as well as to Kate!

  25. Andrew Thompson says:

    Wow, very interesting review which I enjoyed reading. I am so excited about this release and every day since I was made aware of it’s release I have been jumping for joy. This is going to be very interesting to listen to for the very first time, to interpret and imagine images of these new recordings. I waited for Aerial in the same way and I wasn’t disappointed when I heard Aerial!
    I can’t wait until the 16th, but I know I have to. There have been mixed reactions by fans on this project, perhaps thirty second clips really don’t give you accrue perspective on what the finished recording will sound like. It is difficult to give an honest opinion in this way, that is why I am waiting for the finished product. I do love the clip of Lily, and am looking forward to reviewing the full version. This project is going to be full of interesting and wonderful ditties.
    Andrew

  26. gary says:

    Us die hard kt fans are alwys critical about and up and coming new rerlease from kate,and it feels the release date will never come,but I for one will can’t wait to press play and feel the nerves waiting for our first notes from her,five years have been a long time!when is it ms bush time for the outstanding brit awarfd that she is long over duer for???

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