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Kate Bush record hailed, but fears death of album

By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - British singer Kate Bush may believe the music industry is "collapsing," but her latest album has been hailed by some critics as a classic and she has promised more to come after years away from the studio.

"50 Words For Snow" is a concept album consisting of seven tracks, each much longer than the average pop song, which was described by the L.A. Times as "an art-song cycle that veers from delicate to blustery but always with a sheen of elegance."

In her five-star review, the Telegraph newspaper's Helen Brown called it a "quietly beautiful album," while Simon Price in the Independent on Sunday wrote of Bush's first album of new material since 2005's "Aerial":

"To the relief of anyone who carries a torch for the reclusive genius, it's a beauty."

Bush, who rarely gives interviews and studiously avoids the limelight, appears to share critics' sense of enthusiasm for 50 Words For Snow.

It is her second album this year following "Director's Cut," a re-working of music from previous records.

For an artist who waited 12 years between "The Red Shoes" in 1993 and Aerial, it has been a prolific period.

"I feel very proud of this album in a way that I haven't I think since my first record," the 53-year-old told the BBC in an interview to discuss 50 Words For Snow, released on her own record label.

The singer whose singular musical style is often described as "surreal," began with "The Kick Inside" in 1978, which included songs for which she is still best known today -- "Wuthering Heights" and "The Man with the Child in his Eyes."

"In a strange kind of way, by making 'Director's Cut' which was a really important process for me, it was almost like a kind of finishing off a cycle," Bush said.

"It feels to me like this has begun a new phase. I don't know if that's true but that's kind of what it feels like ... In some ways it's like my first record again."

She added she would take a break but that more albums were on the way, despite what she said was as a bleak outlook for the recording industry.

The internet has made downloading single tracks hugely popular, while the album is seen by many leading artists as endangered by technology and changing tastes.

"The music industry is in such poor shape, it's in a really bad way and a lot of people in the industry are very depressed," Bush said.

"Record sales are very low (and) I think a lot of us fear the death of the album as an art form and I love albums.

"I understand that people want to just listen to a track and put it on their iPod and that's fine, there's nothing wrong with that, but why can't that exist hand in hand with an album? They're such different experiences.

"I suppose the worst case scenario is that people will get to the point where they can't actually afford to make what they want to make creatively. The industry is collapsing."

50 Words For Snow was released this week on Fish People, Bush's own label.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

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