You can read my thoughts here. Some of what I wrote was adapted for yesterday's news story about the album, and a few things were edited, so I've included the full text below:
So the rumours are true. Kind of. We’ll have to wait patiently – is there any other way to wait for a Kate Bush record? - for an album of new material, but the news that Bush will release Director’s Cut on May 16, an album of new versions of songs originally included on The Sensual World (1989) and The Red Shoes (1993), provides plenty to ponder.
Director’s Cut is a typically atypical Bush curveball: risky and potentially very exciting, but perhaps most of all surprising, because she has rarely spent much time raking over her past moves. Although her music is frequently defined by a haunting, mossy nostalgia and repeat excursions to the shadowy dream country of childhood, in her attitude to her work Bush has always been resolutely forward-facing.
There has been only one rather cursory greatest hits album in 33 years, reluctantly released in 1986 to capitalise on her greatest commercial triumph, Hounds of Love.
She hasn’t toured since 1979. She has chosen not to release her Live at Hammersmith Odeon video, recorded on that tour, nor her collection of groundbreaking videos, Hair of the Hound, on DVD. Deluxe editions of her albums, freshly scrubbed and featuring bonus discs of outtakes and rarities, have been notable by their absence.
For an artist as fully in control of her career as Bush, these are conscious creative choices. She once said: “I can’t possibly think of old songs of mine because they’re past now. And quite honestly I don’t like them anymore.”Director’s Cut might well suggest a softening in this attitude, but it’s telling that, in finally looking back, she has chosen not to simply disinter but to reinvent: to build something new on the skeletons of her old songs.
Rather than The Sensual World and The Red Shoes, we might have expected her to revisit her earliest records. On her first two albums, The Kick Inside and Lionheart, she wasn’t in control of the production process and the results often felt to her like a compromised, overly polite version of the sound she heard in her head. The Whole Story included a version of "Wuthering Heights" with a new vocal and a beefed up sound, but few would claim that it improved on the original.
However, since 1980’s Never for Ever, and certainly by The Dreaming in 1982, she had been a driven, obsessive, autonomous presence in the studio, spending months and later years building self-contained musical worlds entirely to her own exacting specifications. Her back catalogue is generally agreed to be one of the finest and most carefully cultivated in pop, but it’s not flawless, and the fact that of all her records she has chosen to revisit The Sensual World and The Red Shoes makes sense: the former has some fabulous songs but in places sounds oddly flat and somehow squeezed, while The Red Shoes is her most predictable album, recorded at a time of personal upheaval and which too often fails to soar. Bush has in the past been critical of both.
Director’s Cut will keep some elements of the original recordings of a selection of songs – I haven’t yet seen a track listing - from these records while introducing new ones. It will be fascinating to hear what she has chosen to change, and add, and whether these will be radically revised interpretations or mere tweaks. Her voice, deeper and more resonant these days, will certainly be one point of difference, while production techniques have altered beyond recognition since these albums were made.
Should we worry that this news is evidence of a songwriter in decline? I don’t think so. Her last album Aerial, released a little over five years ago, was evidence of a muse in rude if unhurried health, while we are told she is working on new material which the grapevine suggests will be released before too long.
If Director’s Cut is perhaps anti-climactic for those waiting for new material, here’s one final thought which falls somewhere between sobering and thrilling: this release may be the closest we ever get to hearing Bush do something which most other artists regard as routine, which is to reinvent and reappraise their songs by performing them on stage. She may have no desire to play live or be the dazzling visual presence she once was, but this is the first time since her tour in 1979 that Bush has made an effort to reinterpret and recontextualise her back catalogue. Not a tour of life, perhaps, but a significant reimagining nonetheless. Unusual, unexpected, a little bit strange, Director’s Cut is a classic Bush move. I can’t wait to hear it.