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Kate Bush

Aerial (Sony)

As though the Orion nebula shines from her hearth, Kate Bush has always bridged the cozy with the stratospheric. As the title of her first work in twelve years suggests, the two-disc set Aerialstrays a little further into the ether than some of her previous work. While the sweepingly operatic second disc seems to be an ode to a sunset, infused with meditations on art and love, the first disc does contain more grounded tracks. "Pi" is a character study of a mathematician, not a tribute to the number itself, and "Joanni" (an ode to a certain French holy warrior that rings a little off-key with our times) is offset by "Mrs. Bartolozzi," a vignette about doing the laundry. Even the song's ambitious arrangements — which include a kaleidoscope courtesy of Bush's supple piano and adventuresome synth, the London Metropolitan Orchestra, Hammond organs, and didjeridoos — are kept down-to-earth by hooky melodies and folksy intimacy. And the most moving number is the homiest — "Bertie," a song about her son in which her still-astonishing voice cascades like the moods of a spirited child and swells with motherly devotion.

 
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