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Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree


Cave has been getting progressively more ambient (or at least playing more atmospheric, dark piano ballads) for a couple of albums, possibly because of the time he devotes to soundtracks. This new album is no different, and there’s a companion film, One More Time With Feeling.

Clearly this one is different: while the album was being made, his son died when he accidentally fell from a cliff. Cave says the opening line — “You fell from the sky and crashed-landed in a field” — was written before the tragedy and you can only believe him. People die all the time in Cave songs whether it’s in the electric chair or Eurydice, one minute sleeping like a sack of cannonballs, the next having her eyes popping from their sockets as Orpheus does a spot of lyre shredding.

It’s hard to believe that the repeated line in that first song “With my voice I am calling you” does not carry added anguish, or that the atmospheric, mournful buzz that closes the song is not influenced by the death. But the excellent track two, Rings Of Saturn is joyful, like a slowed down version of There She Goes, My Beautiful World from Abattoir Blues.

Pre-conceived ideas about Cave’s state of mind aside, this album is a continuation of the mood of 2013’s Push the Sky Away and the excellent Live From KCRW, out the same year. Quality, as you’d expect, but gloomy.

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