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Kate Bush 

Aerial
(Sony)

Kate Bush has always bridged the cozy with the stratospheric. As the title of her first work in 12 years suggests, the two-disc set Aerial strays a little further into the ether than some of her previous albums.

While the sweepingly operatic second disc seems to be an ode to a sunset, infused with meditations on art and love, the first disc contains 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 visionary French 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 combine Bush's supple piano and adventuresome synth, the London Metropolitan Orchestra, Hammond organs, and didgeridoos -- 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 swells with motherly devotion.

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