Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
Post Punk | Ambient
This year has been marred by grief and tragedy in many forms, perhaps for the music world most of all with the death of David Bowie and Prince. Never before in my lifetime has a year been shrouded by such a suffocating shadow. However no loss could possibly compare to that felt by Nick Cave when he lost his young son last year. Using Skeleton Tree as an outlet for his sorrow has given an unreserved and breathtakingly intimate window into his tortured soul. Though the music plays a minimal role, providing an even more barren backdrop than The Boatman’s Call, Cave’s stream of consciousness lyrics are at a whole new level. The line from ‘Girl in Amber’, “I used to think that when you died you kind of wandered the world/ In a slumber til you crumbled, were absorbed into the earth/I don’t think that anymore”, is just one of many moments that cut you deep down.
The angelic guest vocals of Danish soprano Else Torp on ‘Distant Sky’ are the sole ray of hope in this dark land. Though the album is devastatingly bleak there is no denying it’s profound beauty. There are imperfections to be found, such as the artwork and the heavy use of spoken word, but on an album as raw and personal as this it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of it all, overlook them and see this a deserving masterpiece. Skeleton Tree provides a powerful image of Cave’s mental prison and reveals flashes of raw anger and feelings of emptiness and disillusionment. Though it will come as no consolation, with this album Nick Cave has gifted us perhaps his greatest work and proved to be one of the most world’s most incredible and important songwriters.