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Album of the week: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 'Skeleton Tree'

Dive deep into the mind of a creative genius in just eight tracks

Artist: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Album: Skeleton Tree
Label: Bad Seed Ltd
Release: 09/09/2016

Sometimes, music is hard to listen to - some lyrics penetrate deep into our hearts and threaten our tear ducts with dampness, yet we don't stop listening. Beauty still lingers in even the most unspeakable of traumas - death can be the subject of a masterpiece. That juxtaposition is explored by Nick Cave, of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, who channels his mourning of the recent tragic death of his 15 year old son, Arthur, and turns it into a form of distraction and art, all in one.

Nick Cave plays with the idea of death throughout this eight-track treasure, consistently challenging the norm by redefining what it means to grieve. Cave was once heard explaining at one of his shows: “This next one's a morality tale… they're all morality tales, really. It's what I do.” Since then, he's succeeded in documenting the making of this album through his film One More Time With Feeling.

Skeleton Tree sticks to the same atmospheric, tender rhythms as 2013's Push The Sky Away yet matures through the experiences and life lessons Cave has remarkably been through in those three years. ‘Jesus Alone' sets the scene for this long-awaited production, repeating the question of unfairness with religion that sits on all deep-thinkers' lips: “You believe in God, but you get no special dispensation for this belief now”, complete with eerie samples that are any thriller film director's dream.

As if aware of his intense start, Cave lightens the mood in his floaty, spoken word-inspired (it seems) ‘Rings of Saturn', where we're left to interpret the lyrics ourselves - a task that could lead us thinking about suicide, or prostitution - dark subjects written in a poetic, calm fashion. There's a distinct grappling and wounded tint to Cave's vocals in ‘I Need You' - here he appears to be fighting his own demons, almost pleading in this heart-felt love song that speaks a thousand words.

This beautifully scripted, patient, prudent album is a musical journal that entwines privacy with release for an artist who uses his passion to get through unimaginable anguish. Skeleton Tree is a memoir and evidence of graceful closure - an album that hearts have been poured over and holds a substantial amount of meaning and expression. There's a potent aura that lingers hours after this album is played - it's not one for the weak-hearted.


1. Jesus Alone
2. Rings of Saturn
3. Girl in Amber
4. Magneto
5. Anthrocene
6. I Need You
7. Distant Sky
8. Skeleton Tree

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