‘The Boatman’s Call’- Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds released this record in 1997, one year after the release of ‘Murder Ballads’, and the vibe this time around is much different than what had been found on that record. What the Bad Seeds give us this time around is something that is purely serene; a comforting warmth within the cold quiet. This record is much more personal than its predecessor and it’s also worth noting that the versatility of the Bad Seeds is hardly matched by any other band. Part of the reason for this is the band’s leader, Nick Cave, who has a voracious creative appetite.

The opening track on the record is “Into My Arms”, which sets the vibe of the record. This is a record which paints a world where beauty is innate, but the existence of beauty can have a negative impact on the outcome of things. On a side note, Cave performed this song at the funeral of his friend, ex-INXS vocalist Michael Hutchence, who had died that same year in ’97. The record’s sort of dreary cynicism is best represented in the track “People Ain’t No Good”, a track which presents the listener with an unfortunate reality found on this record. The undisputed highlight of the record is the next track, “Brompton Oratory”, a track which seems to revel in the beauty of its own juxtaposition. On the second half of the record, there definitely seems to be more of a running concept than there does on the record’s first half. This concept begins on “West Country Girl” and continues, in varying degrees of explicitness, to the very end of the record. This will come as no surprise to someone who is familiar with Cave’s work, because it isn’t unusual for his creative world to feature the influence of a muse. This time around, considering the minimalistic nature of the record, Cave brings us closer to this muse than he arguably ever had up to this point. This muse often operates as the force to make known the good and beauty in Cave’s world, which can often feature monstrous instances of characters having their limits tested and who often go over the edge. This juxtaposition is something that Cave has noted exists within his own conscience.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds released yet another incredible record with this release. There is no filler whatsoever on this record and Cave makes the best possible use of his abilities as a vocalist on this record, accompanied by just the piano in many of the arrangements. This is a sharp contrast from the past few Bad Seeds records, which were very much invested in the power of huge, cinematic arrangements. Whether this record’s minimalism was the result of a conscious decision by Cave to backtrack a bit, or something that simply came naturally has no bearing on the quality of this record; it’s flawless in any regard. This is also without a doubt the most personal record the Bad Seeds would put out until 2016’s ‘Skeleton Tree’. Whether Cave is playing the part of an absolute rock n’ roll animal or of a sensitive songsmith pleading for magic and beauty at his piano, you can always trust him to put out the highest quality of material.




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