Skeleton Tree

Skeleton Tree

by Nick Cave & the Bad SeedsNick Cave & the Bad Seeds

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Overview

Nick Cave is an artist who has never shied away from exploring the darker side of the human experience, often in broadly gothic strokes on his early albums but with a growing degree of nuance and compassion as Cave and his work matured. But a very real and deeply painful tragedy was visited on Cave while he was working on his 16th solo album, Skeleton Tree. His 15-year-old son Arthur Cave died when he fell from a cliff in July 2015, and while the writing and recording was already underway when the youngster suffered his accident, the grief and pain of loss Cave felt is palpable throughout this album. Skeleton Tree is relatively modest in scale -- it runs just 40 minutes, the cover artwork is minimal, and the music lacks the dramatic, grand-scale arrangements of Cave's albums of the 21st century. Nearly all of these songs feature spare, minimal melodies and low-key soundscapes that hover over beds of atonal electronic noise and sculpted static. And while the estimable talents of the Bad Seeds are on display here, on many tracks the final effect feels more like an author reading over ambient backing tracks than the sort of evocative sounds one might expect from Cave and his collaborators. The lyrics appear to reference Cave's personal loss on occasion -- the very first words in the opening track, "Jesus Alone," are "You fell from the sky/Crash landed in a field," which could hardly be a mere coincidence -- yet Skeleton Tree doesn't feel like an album about the late Arthur Cave. Instead, Skeleton Tree plays like an act of mourning, a set of songs in which Cave makes his acquaintance with grief and struggles to make sense of the pain and emotional devastation that come with outliving your child. As always, Cave's songs are both literate and emotionally honest, and though this music is genuinely passionate, he avoids histrionics. Skeleton Tree isn't about exorcizing the agony of being robbed of a loved one. Instead, this music honors the dead by making sense of the pain of the survivors, and the harrowing and beautiful "Distant Sky" (a duet with Else Torp) finds a point where these two sides meet and find peace. Even by Cave's dour standards, Skeleton Tree is a tough listen, but it's also a powerful and revealing one, and a singular work from a one-of-a-kind artist.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/09/2016
Label: Bad Seed Ltd
UPC: 5060454943839
catalogNumber: 9
Rank: 2198

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds   Primary Artist
Nick Cave   Synthesizer,Piano,Vocals,Background Vocals,Vibes,Wurlitzer
Martyn Casey   Bass
Warren Ellis   Synthesizer,Piano,Violin,Viola,Background Vocals,Loops,Wurlitzer,Drum Loop,Guitar (Tenor),Guitar (Baritone)
Thomas Wydler   Drums
Charlotte Glasson   Viola
George Vjestica   Acoustic Guitar,Background Vocals
Else Torp   Vocals
Ellie Wyatt   Violin
James Sclavunos   Percussion,Background Vocals,Vibes,Tubular Bells
Joe Giddey   Cello

Technical Credits

Nick Cave   Composer,Producer
Warren Ellis   Composer,Producer
Nick Launay   Engineer,Additional Production
Kevin Paul   Engineer,overdub engineer
Jake Jackson   overdub engineer

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