When it comes to Nick Cave’s music, much of his work, from his early aggressive days to his later more mellow yet wonderfully insightful albums, there’s always been an incredible literary element. It seems Cave has an innate ability to just weave words together, conjuring up expressive images that are wonderfully interpretive, yet also telling a very distinct story. Following the tragic news last year, there has almost been a sense of apprehension as to what Cave would do next, and how such an event would ultimately influence the music as well. Any suspicions people may have had that Skeleton Tree would be a highly charged and emotionally draining album are certainly correct in this case, understandably so.
2013’s Push The Sky Away saw Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds take a more somber approach to their music (think The Boatman’s Call with wonderful instrumentals), and as so, we almost see a continuation of this style on Skeleton Tree. There’s a layering to the music itself, but it still feels as naked and vulnerable as the vocals themselves. It’s perhaps difficult to really focus on the instrumental elements of the album though, when at the forefront of it all is the incredible lyrical content, and highly emotionally charged vocal delivery by Cave himself. It is a perfect expression of grief and torment, which might perhaps feel a little odd to want to listen too, but Cave’s incredible talent of expressing himself makes it an important listen, and perhaps one that really needed doing.
It’s hard to fault an album such as this. What Cave has wanted to achieve on Skeleton Tree has been done masterfully, and although this is a listen that can be very emotionally draining for those who simply get lost in Cave’s music, it is one that really shows just how incredible Cave is at translating his thoughts and then pushing out in a creative way. There’s a wonderful and beautiful element of burying everything in metaphors, images and concepts, making it an album that hardly directly addresses its own themes, but still makes them perfectly understandable all the same. It’s uncomfortable, seeing such a vulnerable side to one of music’s strongest writers, but it’s evident this is something Cave felt needed doing.
Fans of Cave’s more recent output will no doubt see the many merits of Skeleton Tree, which at the very least follows on comfortably from Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus and Push The Sky Away (at least in a musical aspect). It’s perhaps difficult to know how and when to approach an album such as this, but no doubt when the time is right, you as a listener will know. Obviously, as with all artistic expressions, this kind of understanding and reverence of Skeleton Tree is hardly universal, and there are perhaps some people who will receive no impact from the album and its content. Though one should hardly ever worry about such things though, and instead just try let themselves get lost in the musical world being conjured up.
- ★★★★★ 5/5
- Jesus Alone
- Rings of Saturn
- I Need You
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ latest album ‘Skeleton Tree’ is out now.