Saturday, December 28, 2013

Album Review: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - The Boatman's Call

Nick Cave released a stripped down, practically solo album, The Boatman's Call.  Not quite Bad Seed-less, the prominence of Cave's piano relegates them to very much support act status.  It opens with Cave crooning "I don't believe in an interventionist God" on piano ballad Into My Arms, a very familiar track followed up by the Doors-lite of Lime Tree Arbour, all doomy bass and creepy organ and piano.
 
The mood continues on People Ain't No Good, Cave sings ruefully of "to our love send a coffin of wood" over piano and Warren Ellis' deft violin.  It's probably Cave's prettiest, most romantic collection of songs.  Gorgeous ballads like There Is A Kingdom and Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere are the order of the day.  Mick Harvey's achingly soft bed of guitars on (Are You) The One That I've Been Waiting For? really convey the longing contained in it.
 
Just when the album threatens to sink into over-sentimental wallowing, the strum with attitude of West Country Girl shifts the mood to Cave snarling about "her glove of bones at her wrist that I have held in my hand".  Later, Harvey's guitar and Ellis' violin combine well on Idiot Prayer.  It's all very... tasteful, if à little unvaried.  Mostly light, with little shade.  But it's an album where any of 12 strong songs could be singled out.