A lot has been said about the new Nick Cave album. Mainly because of the tragic passing of his son last year. Events like that can shatter your life, as they probably have. Now we have the album written after this horrific event. And it’s beautiful, sombre, sparse.
Death has always been a big theme in his music. But the previously told stories were just that : stories. Here, it’s become very personal, which sips through in the music. The instrumentation here is subtle, soft, it gives way for Cave’s lyrics to shine. He’s at his most subdued here, the fire seems to have gone, if only briefly, to give way for more hearthfelt moments. Death and loss are everpresent, and it’s hard not to make the link with his son. But in some other way, it’s a logical progression from Push The Sky Away, which was already far more calm then his previous albums. The biggest difference between all those albums and this one though, is the overwhelming feel off sadness. It’s a record that emits very little hope, very little light.
Musically, Warren Ellis seems to have taken the reins. Sparse drumming, soft piano strokes, ambient noises which could be one of the 10 instruments Ellis plays on this album. It’s beautifully done, and sets the mood perfectly. It sounds like their own tribute, and feels fitting. It also ensures you hear every tremble in Cave’s voice, every detail of tone he puts in every syllable.
My favourite song is Girl In Amber. It feels like a song about his wife, the feeling of helplessness. It’s very personal, very confrontational, and not always easy to listen to. But my God is it beautiful. It’s real. These emotions are genuine, and it shows.
This is a fantastic record, but a hard one. It’s confrontational. It can get you down. But music is an art that explores all spectrums of emotion, and sadness has never been shown more profound then here. Another essential record from an essential artist.