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2020 Ford Ecosport Review

City-friendly sizeSpacious enough interiorBack seat head roomUpmarket stereo availableDISLIKES
Sluggish accelerationSo-so fuel economyPoor safety scoresBargain-bin interior trimBUYING TIP
The Ecosport SE represents the best combination of features, drivetrain, and price. Make sure you select the optional blind-spot monitors too.





Kate Bush - The Sensual World Music Album Reviews

Never did Kate Bush sound more grounded, more in control of her songwriting than on her sixth album from 1989, featuring stories that play out like intimate vignettes rather than fantastical fairy tales.

Kate Bush had already set Molly Bloom’s breathless soliloquy from the end of James Joyce’s Ulysses to music when she discovered she couldn’t use it. Without his estate’s permission, and after his grandson snubbed her requests for a year, she rewrote it in her own words. By the time she’d finished, the title track to Kate Bush’s sixth album wasn’t just Molly’s memory of an erotic frisson: It was the sound of her busting out of her prison, her coming-of-age transformed into a coming-off-the-page.

It might seem like an uncanny echo of her debut single—another literary character overcome by desire, fantasizing about rolling around in fields—but Bush wasn’t the same singer who’d loaded the gothic romance of “Wuthering Heights” with the life-and-death fervor of teenage lust. “Someone said in your teens, you get the physical puberty, and between 28 and 32, mental puberty,” she said in 1989. “It does make you feel differently.”

The Sensual World is not a work of po-faced realism or post-Neverland dowdiness. Bush sings about falling in love with a computer, dressing up as a firework, and dancing with a dictator. She’s still in thrall to love, lust, loneliness, passion, pain, and pleasure. And she’s still fond of strange noises; listen closely to the title track and you might hear her brother, Paddy, swishing a fishing rod through the air.

But she’d never sounded more grounded than she did on these 10 songs, most of which are about regular people in regular messes, not disturbed governesses, paranoid Russian wives or terrified fetuses. It was, she said, her most honest, personal album, and its stories play out like intimate vignettes rather than fantastical fairy tales. Unlike the otherworldly synth-pop-prog she pioneered on 1985’s Hounds of Love, she used her beloved Fairlight CMI to produce lusher, mellow textures, complemented by the warm, earthy thrum of Irish folk instruments and the pretty violins and violas of England’s classical bad boy, Nigel Kennedy. Even the album’s artwork depicted a less playful, more serious Bush than the one who’d fondled Harry Houdini on 1982’s The Dreaming and cuddled dogs on Hounds of Love.

There’s no Hounds-style grand narrative thread on The Sensual World. Bush likened it to a volume of short stories, with its subjects frequently wrestling with who they were, who they are, and who they want to be. She was able to pour some of her own frustrations into these knotty tussles: She found it more difficult than ever to write songs, couldn’t work out what she wanted them to say, and hit roadblock after roadblock. The 12 months she spent pestering Joyce’s grandson were surpassed by the maddening two years she spent on “Love and Anger,” which, fittingly, finds her tormented by an old trauma she can’t bring herself to talk about. But by the end, she banishes the evil spirits by leading her band in something that sounds like a raucous exorcism, chanting, “Don’t ever think you can’t change the past and the future” over squalling guitars.

Even its most surreal songs are rooted in self-examination. “Heads We’re Dancing” seems like a dark joke—a young girl is charmed on to the dancefloor by a man she later learns is Adolf Hitler—but poses a troubling question: What does it say about you, if you couldn’t see through the devil’s disguise? Its discordant, skronky rhythms make it feel like a formal ball taking place in a fever dream, and Bush’s voice grows increasingly panicky as she realizes how badly she’s been duped. As far-fetched as its premise was, its inspiration lay close to home: A family friend had told Bush how shaken they’d been after they’d taken a shine to a dashing stranger at a dinner party, only to find out they’d been chatting to Robert Oppenheimer.

It’s more fanciful than most of The Sensual World’s little secrets. To hear someone recall formative childhood truths (the lush grandeur of “Reaching Out”) and lingering romantic pipedreams (the longing of “Never Be Mine”) is like being given a reel of their memory tapes and discovering what makes them tick. On “The Fog,” she’s paralyzed by fear until she remembers the childhood swimming lessons her father gave her, his voice cutting through the misty harps like an old ghost. Relationships on the album can be sticky and thorny. “Between a Man and a Woman” is half-dangerous and half-sultry, its snaking rhythms mirroring the round-in-circles squabbling of a couple. When a third party tries to interfere, they’re told to back off. This time, unlike on “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God),” there’s no point wishing for a helping hand from God.

But if there are no miracles, there are at least songs that sound like them. For “Rocket’s Tail,” Bush enlisted the help of Trio Bulgarka, who she fell in love with after hearing them on a tape Paddy gave her. The three Bulgarian women didn’t speak English and had no idea what they were singing about, but it didn’t matter. They sound more like mystics during its a capella first half, and when it eventually blows up into a glammy stomper with Dave Gilmour’s electric guitar caterwauling like a Catherine wheel, their vocals still come out on top: cackling like gleeful witches, whooping like they’re watching sparks explode in the night sky. Its weird, wonderful magic offered a simple message: Life is short, so enjoy moments of pleasure before they fizzle out.

Perhaps that’s why there are glimmers of hope even in the album’s most desperate circumstances. “Deeper Understanding” is a bleak sci-fi tale about a lonely person who turns to their computer for comfort, and in doing so isolates themselves even more. But while there’s an icy chill to the verses, Trio Bulgarka imbue the computer’s voice with golden warmth. Bush wanted it to sound like the “visitation of angels,” and hearing the chorus is like being wrapped in a celestial hug. She pulls off a similar trick on “This Woman’s Work,” which she wrote for John Hughes’ film She’s Having a Baby, although her vivid, devastating interpretation of its script has taken on a far greater life of its own. It captures a moment of crisis: a man about to be walloped with the sledgehammer of parental responsibilities, frozen by terror as he waits for his pregnant wife outside the delivery room, his brain a messy spiral of regrets and guilty thoughts. Yet Bush softens the song’s building panic attack with soft musical touches so it rushes and swirls like a dream, even as reality becomes a waking nightmare. “It’s the point where has to grow up,” said Bush. “He’d been such a wally.”

She didn’t need to prove her own steeliness to anyone, especially the male journalists who patronized her and harped on her childishness as a way of cutting her down to size. Instead, The Sensual World is the sound of someone deciding for themselves what growing up and grown-up pop should be, without being beholden to anyone else’s tedious definitions. It gave her a new template for the next two decades, inspiring both the smooth, stylish art-rock of 1993’s The Red Shoes and the picturesque beauty of 2005’s Aerial. Like Molly Bloom, Bush had set herself free into a world that wasn’t mundane, but alive with new, fertile possibility.

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