There’s little doubt to cast on the career of Nick Cave. The Australian born singer songwriter and occasional actor, has written some of the best songs to come out of music. With The Bad Seeds, Cave has explored multiple genres and changed his sound from one album to the next. With as much life as Cave has seen in his time, it’s not unheard of for him to release a deeply personal album. With his latest Ghosteen, that’s exactly what he’s done-and it’s glorious. The double album, consisting of eleven tracks, falls in two parts. The first half, referred to as “the children” and the second known as “their parents.” Like all of the work from Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, there’s reasoning behind it. Here the closing chapter in a trilogy of releases that began with Push the Sky Away. In a little over an hour, with several of the tracks being spoken word, Cave reminds us why he’s a force in music.
For starters, the album is quite sad in terms of subject, the words within it and the music that plays out. Cave is pulling at his classic era tone while envoking the guise of an artist like Leonard Chen. From the songs to the lyrics, the cover art from artist Tom du Bois, there’s a presence throughout the sixty eight minute run time. The album has bookends with opener “Spinning Song” and closer “Hollywood,” both imbibed in the guise of the auteur. Cloaked in dark notes, tones that are as beautiful as they are haunting, the tracks in-between tell the tales of someone in grief.
The shining examples here come with the piano driven notes of “Bright Horse” where a backing choral vocal paints with broad strokes before Cave comes in to add his touch. “Sun Forest” feels like warmth touching your eyelids after swimming in the deep. There’s a demeanor on the track that’s very quaint, full of life yet also having the sound of fleeting time. “Galleon Ship” takes the sound to a new place, Cave’s voice like a beacon to ships crossing a dark ocean. “Ghosteen Speaks” has glimmers of hope embedded within a world of sadness. This is Cave operating on a different level, his soul bare for all the see and his words as honest as they get. Musically the album is a work of beauty that never stops filling your cup. Ghosteen is dealing with loss one note at a time, in the most public way possible.
Ghosteen is available for purchase in all digital music stores, it can be streamed wherever you stream music or it can be purchased directly from the Nick Cave web store. Nick Cave is on a speaking tour entitled Conversations With Nick Cave starting October 10 in Portland, OR at Revolution Hall until January 31, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium at Bozar Center for Fine Arts. His complete tour schedule can be located here.
Image Credits: Photo by Matthew Thorne.