sun 26/02/2017

CD: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree

CD: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree

Funereal blues that do, in the end, suggest the possibility of redemption

A more brutally honest reflection of the worst of possible times would be a rare find
Skeleton Tree: a brutally honest reflection of the worst of times

While Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ last album, Push The Sky Away might almost be described as the closest to Easy Listening that the band are ever likely to find themselves, their new opus, Skeleton Tree is a different beast altogether. Written and recorded around the time of the tragic death of one of Cave’s teenage sons, it exudes all the hurt, terror and desperation that may be expected of such an erudite lyricist. Backed by droning blues that are loaded with apocalyptic imagery and creeping dread and piano ballads with ambient loops and down-tempo shuffles, Skeleton Tree sees Cave come to terms with the new unknown person that he sees in the mirror beaten down with a raw grief.

At times, Cave seems consumed with pain and on the verge of being broken by misery and at times it can feel almost too intrusive to listen to these songs as he intones “Nothing really matters when the one you love is gone” on “I Need You” and croons “They told us our gods would out-live us but they lied” on the funereal duet with Danish soprano Else Torp, “Distant Sky”. Skeleton Tree is not all doom and gloom, however, and the title track with its lighter touch and repeated refrain of “It’s alright now”, does at least suggest that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that some kind of peace and acceptance will be within Cave’s grasp eventually.

Nick Cave may have acquired a reputation for delving into those dark and frightening places at various times over the last forty years but Skeleton Tree is definitely the real thing and a more brutally honest reflection of the worst of possible times would be a rare find.

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