The Red Shoes, by Kate Bush
During the time after the release of The Sensual World, Kate Bush wanted to create an album that she could tour in support of, given that much of her relatively recent music up to that time had been created in the studio and was impossible to recreate in concert. Unfortunately for her, the four years between the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s when this album was released were a period of deep turmoil for her, including the deaths of her mother as well as her longtime guitar player. The end result, though, giving Bush her biggest album and last entry on the Hot 100 until this week. Throughout her career, Bush has given the public thoughtful songs about love and relationships, often about the desire to understand others (especially one’s partner) and communicate better with them, so let us see if these themes of Bush’s work find their way into a more accessible form here as well.
“Rubberband Girl” opens the album, and it was the big single here in the United States, making the Hot 100. It is a catchy and humorous and reflective song where Bush reflects on her femininity and how she could be. “And So Is Love” is a touching rock song with gorgeous vocals and a smoldering guitar. “Eat The Music” is nervy and upbeat, although I’m not fond of the suggestion to eat a mango, personally. “Moments Of Pleasure” is lush and sensuous and joyful and a true standout on what has been a very good album so far. “The Song Of Solomon” is a call from Bush for sexuality and poetry, looking at the literal meaning of the titular biblical book, and including some of the book’s sensuous imagery. “Lily” begins with a vocal sample and then moves into a story song about women protecting themselves with references to angelology. “The Red Shoes” is full of Bush’s focus on dreams and understanding others through imagination, with a gorgeous instrumental background. “Top Of The City” is a spare and austere song that again calls out to angels for deliverance. “Constellation Of The Heart” is a catchy song about investigating the meaning and importance of our own heart and mind and those of other people. “Big Stripey Lie” is haunting but filled with beautiful strings as Bush again reflects on sacred matters, a surprising focus of this album. “Why Should I Love You?” is a beautiful ode to love and an expression of appreciation. “The Only One” is a melancholy song about longing, a fitting but rather sad way to end a reflective album about love and relationships.
The Red Shoes may be a more accessible album than the majority of albums released by Kate Bush, and it certainly helped it be one of her more popular albums in the United States–with the highest peak until this week’s return of Hounds Of Love, at least–but it is still a good deal less accessible than most pop albums released in 1993 or any other year. Not that this is a bad thing by any means, as Kate Bush has provided another set of strong songs about love and relationships that also dwell long on the issue of spirituality. If the making of this album frustrated Kate Bush’s attempt to tour in support of an album, this album remains a beautiful and moving album that is well worth discovering.