down somewhat, Bush herself remains rambunctious, and it's a saving grace. A sighing remembrance like "Moments of Pleasure" or the purple pleas of "Big Stripey Lie" could have the cloying aura of pressed flowers if they weren't put across with conviction and a tendency to really belt. "And So Is Love" is typical of Bush's aggressively sad torch songs, built of simple phrases theatrically enunciated and enhanced by dramatic support from guest Eric Clapton.
It's not all fainting hearts on Shoes, though. The mood ranges from the pure pop of "Rubberband Girl" to the exuberant reel of the title cut (an homage to the classic film), from the wistful verse and funky chorus of the Prince collaboration "Why Should I Love You?" to the West Indies-flavored "Eat the Music." The Red Shoes is a solid collection of well-crafted and seductively melodic showcases for Bush's hypercabaret style.
Canadian Jane Siberry has often been compared to Bush, partly due to the convenience of lumping together quirky female singer/songwriters but also as an acknowledgment that both are working in a personal subgenre of art rock. And there are similarities between Siberry's When I Was a Boy and Shoes both display a preoccupation with the difficulty of separating pain and love; both evoke a questioning spirituality and a distinctly feminine earthiness.
But Siberry's album is as funereal and expansive as Bush's is tight and energized. Nothing Siberry has done in the past quite prepares the listener for this album's prevalent mood of spooky obsession, bewilderment and resignation, and deathbed reflections. Though there's occasionally a rumble in the reverie ("All the Candles in the World," for instance, is positively funky), the overall ambience is prayerful, abetted by a production that often creates a cathedral of silence between the low tones (husky viola or cello filigrees) and the spare front line (an acoustic piano or guitar). Though songs like "Temple" (co-produced by Siberry and Brian Eno) and "Candles" are immediately likable, long free-floating meditations like "Sweet Incarnadine" and "The Vigil (The Sea)" are the album's centerpieces, gradually unfolding songs about love and dying.
It would all be horribly pretentious if not maudlin in the hands of a lesser talent, but Siberry approaches her task with a fearless simplicity, resisting easy irony or clev