Wednesday, December 9, 2009

CD Odyssey Disc 65: Nick Cave

The next Disc in the Odyssey is the second entry from Nick Cave. The first was reviewed way back at Disc 13, when I rolled The Boatman's Call.

Disc 65 is...No More Shall We Part

Artist: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

Year of Release: 2001

How I Came To Know It: After our success with "The Boatman's Call", this was the third album of Nick Cave's that I bought (Tender Prey still to come).

How It Stacks Up: I still have 6 Nick Cave albums, but plans are in the works for more. Sadly, I am in exile until after Christmas (no shopping allowed!). I'd put "No More Shall We Part" in the middle of the pack. Maybe 3rd or 4th depending on my mood.

Rating: 4 stars (just).

By the time this album came along in the collection I was a devoted Nick Cave fan and in full "drive your friends nuts" mode in my excitement.

I am over that phase, but I'm not over Nick Cave nor this album. It is really good.

This particular record has a similar sound to 1997's "The Boatman's Call" with very sparse arrangements, and the centrepiece of Nick Cave's haunting voice and troubling lyrics. Overall, it isn't as strong, but it definitely has the magic.

One criticism of this album is that most songs are predominantly mood pieces, and some are a little overlong - the result is 12 tracks but almost 70 minutes of music. I wouldn't cut any of these songs short, nor do I think there are any real stinkers, but I think I'd've saved some for the next record and maybe had 8 or 9 tracks and a more manageable length.

Standout tracks include "As I sat sadly by her side" which is a deeply philosophical song about the nature of empathy for strangers, and the presence and absence of God in that empathy. It is deep stuff, like a lot of Nick Cave.

Here are some of my favourite lyrics off this record, which are from "Hallelujah" (no relation to the Cohen song of the same name).

On writer's block...

"I'd given my nurse the weekend off
My meals were ill prepared
My typewriter had turned mute as a tomb
And my piano crouched in the corner of my room
With all its teeth bared
All its teeth bared.

And then later after he goes out into the world and gets some experience, he finds himself filled only with sadness:

"The tears are welling in my eyes again
I need twenty big buckets to catch them in
And twenty pretty girls to carry them down
And twenty deep holes to bury them in

You see, in a Nick Cave song, even when you get what you want, it is only going to bring another level of angst and further spiritual hand wringing. But it is really good spiritual hand wringing, so we forgive him.

I also like the song "God Is In the House" which is satirical piece about a town so supposedly perfect that they've dyed all the kittens white so they can be seen in the dark.

This album is filled with the tales of a man wrestling with his complex relationships with his art, his woman and his God. If you like that kind of sombre pondering, this is for you. I happen to really dig sombre pondering - we English Lit types are famous for that stuff.

For this I make no apologies, and declare this album excellent. Sombre Ponderers of the world unite!

Best tracks: As I sat sadly by her side, Hallelujah, Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow, God Is In the House, Oh My Lord, Darker With the Day

No comments: