New Music – Jesus Alone / Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

There’s been lots of emphasis that this is a dark album even by Nick Cave’s standards. Look at the album art in comparison to Push The Sky Away, or even the barebones of the title – Skeleton Tree. Then there’s the obvious links to the tragic death of Cave’s son. So now that we actually have a first taste of the album, how does it match up? It’s pretty new territory for the Seeds, as it turns out. There’s less prominent instrumentation – sure, there’s piano and the ghost of a guitar, but this could easily be a piece of ambient music if Cave wasn’t intoning dark imagery over the top. He keeps calling out – ‘You’re a…’ followed by different kinds of people; ‘You’re a young man waking covered in blood that is not yours’, ‘You’re an African doctor harvesting tear ducts’, or my favourite ‘You’re a woman in a yellow dress surrounded by a charm of hummingbirds’. It’s vivid stuff, seemingly interested in moments of pure life and pure death – ‘lambs burst from the wombs of their mothers’, ‘Let us sit together in the dark until the moment comes’, ‘Drug addict lying on your back’. It’s not so much bothered with verses and choruses, and there’s little variation. It’s creepy, graphic and dark. What more could you ask from Nick Cave?