- 16 Sep 16
Powerful effort from legendary singer.
There is a raw, even brutal starkness to the cover, title and overall tone of Skeleton Tree – the sixteenth Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds album and the first since the horrific death of his son, Arthur.
In a remarkable lecture that nailed Cave’s creative impulse entitled ‘The Secret History of the Love Song’, the singer memorably said: “A great gaping hole was blasted out of my world by the unexpected death of my father when I was nineteen years old. The way I learned to fill this hole, this void, was to write.”
In the wake of every parent’s worst nightmare, Cave again confronts the void by writing. Skeleton Tree is a sparse and achingly beautiful album, self-produced by Cave and Warren Ellis, and featuring minimal synth loops and some of the most haunting piano playing of Cave’s entire career. The usual swagger of the Bad Seeds is replaced by a meditative, and ultimately soothing mood.
‘Distant Sky’ is a stunning duet with Danish soprano Else Torp. “Let us go now, my only companion,” Torp sings. “Set out for the distant skies/Soon the children will be rising, will be rising/This is not for our eyes.”
On the closing, title track, Cave gently intones, “It’s alright now,” over a heartbreakingly beautiful piano melody. In the face of unspeakable tragedy, Cave reminds us that music and art are sometimes the only ways of making any sense whatsoever of life’s horrible chaos.