Tuesday 20 September 2016

Spinning: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree

Losing people that are close to you is inevitable and part of life, but at the same time there are not many things that leave bigger scars on people. Unfortunately I experienced this first hand when I lost people, some of them way too young. Losing one of your children, something I am glad I never had to go through, is probably one of the worst things that can happen to a parent. Singer Nick Cave lost his son while recording his latest record. Needless to say that left its marks on his music.

Cave always had a fascination with death and dark subjects in general and was able to capture that in his music that never fails to intrigue. After such a tragedy it was to be expected that it would somehow end up in the songs he was recording and that this record would not be a light one. The album was released together with the movie 'One More Time With Feeling' that shows him in his moments of grief and mourning, a man trying to pick things up after a devastating loss.

Exactly that is what you can hear back in Skeleton Tree, although part of it was already recorded before the deadly tragedy. It's hard to believe the opening track 'Jesus Alone' was one of the tracks that were already done. The first lines of the LP couldn't be more ominous in this light: "You fell from the sky/Crash landed in a field /Near the river Adur". It's a heavy and gloomy track, that sets the mood for the rest of the album.

The songs are following the same path as the ones on Push The Sky Away but gain even more depth, maybe because of their extra load. The almost spoken-word singing of Nick Cave in 'Rings Of Saturn' is followed by the soul crushing 'Girl In Amber' where he sounds like a broken man backed up by weeping vocals. 'Anthrocene' leads off the second half of a record that seems to go deeper and deeper. You can hear the pain and grief in 'I Need You' which is followed by 'Distant Sky', a song that makes you stop doing whatever you're doing and makes the world stop spinning for a short moment.

It's exactly the feeling you get when you are mourning the loss of a loved one. The big lump in your throat that doesn't seem to go away, that sickening feeling in your stomach, the feeling of being lost in a world that seems detached. A feeling of hopelessness, as if everything just seems to fall out of your hands. Nick Cave obviously is a man who was crushed and tries to pick up himself from the pieces, tries to carry on with that huge wound on his soul. He translated these feelings perfectly into music, arranged beautifully by Warren Ellis and recorded with his Bad Seeds. The album cover, black with some simple text, also expresses this. It's an intense record that cuts deep into your soul and where it's almost impossible to keep your eyes dry. Yet I want to spin it again and again, despite the lump in my throat.

Listen to Skeleton Tree on Spotify:

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