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The strength and variety of Kate's third album is a significant jump from her first two efforts. Looking back on "Never For Ever", you can hear her straining the limits of the basic middle-of-the-road singer-songwriter pop song. For a start, it's a lot less piano-based, and the productions much more inventive and colourful.
The big hit "Babooshka" is good fun, with a nice angular rhythm and tune. The first surprise is the segue into "Delius" - this laid back, pastoral piece seems to be Kate's first purely experimental piece. "Blow Away" and "All We Ever Look For" are more conventional mellow pop, but with attractive arrangements. "Egypt" adds some rather obvious Middle Eastern exotica, with a mad but pretty Moog keyboard solo at the end.
"The Wedding List" is odd, seemingly about a widow getting revenge on her murdered newlywed husband, but I can't help thinking there's something I'm missing. Maybe it's the naïve simplicity of the lyrics and tune. The deliberately out of tune rocker "Violin" is one of the most irritating things she has done. The disturbing lyrics of "The Infant Kiss" are backed perfectly by some chilling string shivers. After the delicate satire of "Army Dreamers", the album finishes with the symphonic pomp rock of "Breathing". This song about Cold War nuclear apocalypse is almost too ponderous, but is saved by a beautifully atmospheric quiet middle section.
October 7, 2003