- Artist: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
- Title: Ghosteen
- Released: 2019
- Format: FLAC Digital
- Genre: Alternative
- Beverage of Choice: Coffee
Nick Cave has been recording for almost as long as I’ve been listening to music although I only discovered the distinctive tonality and resonance of his songs in 1996 with the release of ‘Murder Ballads’. His long career has been marked by a singular vision of poetic experimentation with exquisite artistry and lush arrangement on some songs (‘Straight to You‘ from Henry’s Dream) to profane and raucous chaos on others (‘No Pussy Blues‘ on the Grinderman album.
Cave is primarily a poet, painting word pictures and draping them in chorus and melody. Sometimes jagged and inaccessible, sometimes direct and, I dare say it, danceable; once you’ve heard a Nick Cave song, you’ll always be able to identify his work in future.
Ghosteen represents not so much a change in direction but more of a sharpening and focusing of Cave’s aesthetic, vulnerability on display. The common themes he has explored over the years (religion, love, death, violence, loss) are all to be found in this latest release but ‘on steroids’ , intensely personal, emotionally draining and wrapped in the context of the unexpected and sudden death of Arthur Cave, Nick’s 15-year-old son in 2015.
These are love songs poured out from a broken heart, braided through with loss and longing. The arrangements are sparse (spacey/ethereal keyboards, piano, muted percussion) yet at the same time lush and achingly beautiful with Cave’s usually gruff baritone softened, ranging wider and higher than previously heard and harmonizing with choir-like background vocals.
Now this may all sound kinda depressing and overwrought; but I found the opposite to be true; I am stirred by his authenticity and aesthetic and take solace in his using even the most difficult events and circumstances in his life to connect to an audience. Even in his pain, there is hope for the future. “Sometimes a little bit of faith can go a long, long way”.
Carve out an hour or so in your busy life, plug in a good set of headphones to your phone/tablet/device of choice and truly connect to this music, it won’t leave you wanting.