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|1. As I Sat Sadly By Her Side|
|2. And No More Shall We Part|
|4. Love Letter|
|5. Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow|
|6. God Is In The House|
|7. Oh My Lord|
|8. Sweetheart Come|
|9. The Sorrowful Wife|
|10. We Came Along This Road|
|11. Gates To The Garden|
|12. Darker With The Day|
Here, Cave draws on the principal preoccupations that he is most synonymous with - love, death, drugs, madness, murder and religion being amongst the more obvious - and creates a work of intense, cathartic beauty. Even the flowers on the cover give us a suggestion of the way ahead, giving us a new Nick no longer Kicking Against the Pricks but instead, almost wilting in the sense of autumnal melancholy that marks out many of these songs.
Here it is the mournful string arrangements of Warren Ellis and Mick Harvey that really set the scene for Nick’s most touchingly operatic work... an album that speaks in bursts of poetic beauty whilst unfolding with the kind of surreal detachment usually reserved for dreamscapes and early Van Morrison. I suppose that’s the fairest summation. If the earlier Boatman’s Call was Nick’s Blood on the Tracks then surely this is his Astral Weeks... a collection of intensely beautiful songs that suffocate the listener with their languid pace and lyrical grace.
There’s simply no stand out here. As with the majority of Nick’s output, the record unfolds naturally... each songs is as important as the one that preceded it, building up to a moody crescendo around track seven, which is then sustained till the very last. Here Nick croons along in true balladeer mode, whilst the ever-excellent Bad Seeds create haunting landscapes of music that complement Cave’s blend of gospel poetry perfectly.Read more ›
The album begins with the quietly strummed guitar and lilting piano of the first few bars of "As I sat sadly by her side", the first single, which would seem to indicate that this album is going to become "The Boatman's Call Part II". However, as we move on it becomes apparent that this is not entirely the case.
The third track "Hallelujah" exhibits a lush musical backdrop far less spartan than anything found on the previous album and is one of the highlights of this one. From this track in, the songs are more musically complex and often louder than the previous work. It's not however until we reach "Oh my Lord" that the Bad Seeds really let rip. This song appears to be in part Cave's response to his detractors who claim he's gone a bit "soft" of late, the loud orchestration easily matching the anger of any of the pseudo-punk on "Henry's Dream" with a suitably vitriolic lyric.
Nick Cave has always been able to turn lyrical cartwheels and this album is no exception. It's the oh-so-easy mix of the sublime, mundane, ridiculous, dramatic and tragic imagery that's so moving - but I'll refrain from quoting any because I suspect that out of context it'll all seem a bit silly.
But if you fancy an album of brown cows, white kittens, lady mayors, absent nurses, buried hatchets, snarling pianos, love letters, white churches, plastic antlers, garden gates and smoking guns - go buy this one. You won't regret it!
Two years on, No More Shall We Part emerged. Not only did it show Nick Cave's return after four years of relative silence, it also showed him slowly returning to the louder sound of his earlier works, which would continue over his next two studio albums. Weighing in at 68 minutes, every song here is a long one; and every song here is worth it.
The quieter ballads here are among Nick Cave's greatest. The eight-minute epic that is 'Hallelujah' is a hallucinatory, hymnal, tearful journey that would've made Bob Dylan proud as it swells to its majestic ending. 'God Is In The House' is a whispery, vaguely hilarious conflab that remains in his solo sets to this day, and 'Love Letter' is arguably his sweetest song to date.
The real attraction here, though, is the louder moments, signifying the slow return to the Nick Cave of old. 'Oh My Lord,' arguably the best song here, is like 'Hallelujah's evil twin, a slong, building epic characterised by Warren Ellis' scratchy violin. 'The Sorrowful Wife,' meanwhile, blindsides you when it explodes into a thunderous racket a few minutes in.
Overall, eleven albums it, it certainly was a fine showing. Yet again, Nick Cave pulled out a winner against all odds.
I'm a musician myself, and to be able to listen to something as different and special as this album is so refreshing. I intend to purchase the whole of the Nick Cave back catalogue.
But be warned, this isn't for the light-hearted. Anyone who thinks Cliff Richard or Steps are talented, maybe you should just stay clear. Do not insult Mr. Cave with your comments of "it's too morbid and sorrowful and boring". If you think that, then you've missed the whole point of the album. Look deeper, and you'll find something quite beautiful.