REVIEW: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

I’ve said the same before about Nick Cave; he is beyond ‘review’. Who am I to even consider writing about him? This is my heads up: to me, he is godly. He is something special, a gift to music and writing and expression. This won’t be a review, it won’t be objective… at best it’ll be a short and glowing walk through this beautiful work of art.

The world was told of the coming of Ghosteen through Cave’s Red Hand Files, his published responses to fan letters on everything from loss to addiction to body dysmorphia. It arrived online within days and I made the error of thinking I could skip through it at midnight. Wrong. There’s no skipping through this deconstruction of life and loss and pain.

Spinning Song, Bright Horses and Waiting For You floor me like no other opening three songs. Triplets of gentle hurt, subsequent comfort and a brutally honest depiction of silent love.

Night Raid and Sun Forest are orchestral and completely enchanting; Warren Ellis’s strings provide a path of light across which the words flow and when you’re softly assured “i am here beside you”, you believe it. I’m looking out across misty Shropshire hills, a grey middle Earth as I travel to see friends, as Galleon Ship and Ghosteen Speaks play. It’s perfect.

Leviathan is darker with an almost middle-Eastern sounding intro. “I love my baby and my baby loves me” have never sounded so gorgeously menacing, even through divinely placed piano chords. Ghosteen, the title track, is epic. It is spiritual, it is hopeful in its simplicity. It’s fucking glorious.

“I’m speaking about love now
And how the lights of love go down
You’re in the back room washing his clothes
Love’s like that, you know, it’s like a tidal flow
And the past with its fierce undertow won’t ever let us go
Won’t ever let you go”

I could try and try and never find the right words to describe Nick Cave and just how important his work is to me.

No one describes being human and puts inner, messy emotional dialogue on paper and to music like him.

Ghosteen is complex, it is epic, it is gentle. It is a gift marked fragile.

Words by Lisa Whiteman.

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