Favorite Albums of 2011: 10 & 9

10. Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow

50 Words for Snow - Kate Bush

Like a sparse yet beautiful snowy landscape, Kate Bush has created a winter album that puts Windham Hill artists to shame. 50 Words for Snow paints seven epic pieces that celebrate not only the feeling of winter, but explores relationships through a seasonal allegory. “Snowflake” is about beginnings; “Misty” is about a doomed relationship with a snowman; and “Snowed in at Wheeler Street” explores the idea of lovers through time in a beautiful exchange with Elton John. The exception is “50 Words for Snow” which has her having fun creating different words for the frozen precipitation in a style much like “Pi” from 2005’s Aerial where she sings the numbers of pi. 50 Words showcases Kate’s odd sense of story telling while proving she still can create a musical landscape like no other.

Favorite songs: “Snowflake,” “Wild Man,” “Snowed in at Wheeler Street”

9. Florence + the Machine – Ceremonials

Ceremonials - Florence + The Machine

The problem with having an incredibly successful debut album is the next one is fused with the happiness of success and the stress of repeating the winning ways of the first while still trying to grow as an artist. Something has to be sacrificed in order to move on. With Ceremonials, gone is the darker side of relationships including the stories of massive fights and dreams of maiming the one who stole her love. Here is a happier Florence. She is still delivering that massive voice, but there are more choral effects and more new-age-store allusions to how love works. Yes, there are epic moments of self-doubt like in the beautiful “Shake It Out” and “Breaking Down” but some of the happy moments come across as cloying like “Lover to Lover” and “Heartlines.” However, these really are small quibbles in the light of having the gift of Florence’s voice belting across your eardrums.

Favorite songs: “Only If For The Night,” “Shake It Out,” “Breaking Down”

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