I’m not the biggest Nick Cave fan – although I should be. Theoretically he ticks all the boxes of music I like. Lyrical. Dark. Alternative. But I’ve never warmed to him.
Despite this, on hearing that he was releasing an album inspired by the tragic death of his son my interest was piqued and I thought I’d investigate. I will freely admit that initially I found the album hard going. The first few songs were hard to penetrate. Slow dirges, with no immediate choruses that stuck in my mind. It felt a bit like a chore. But for some reason I couldn’t drag myself away from the songs. They were compelling. Magnetic. I felt drawn into the world that Nick Cave and associates had created. Slowly the songs worked their way under my skin. I didn’t feel like a voyeur though. I didn’t feel like I was being a tourist viewing his grief. It felt more like the audience was a therapist, listening to a man who has gone through unimaginable pain and just needed to express himself.
Late in the album one track stands out. Titled “I Need You” I was struck by the fact that countless songwriters have written a song with a similar title or the same sentiment. Yet this song has such gravity that it is almost impossible to listen to. Lyrics like “it doesn’t really matter… I need you” could sound so trite in another’s hands, but given the circumstances around the making of the album these words strike not close to the bone, but so close to the heart that it is almost unbearable.
Quite obviously this is one of the most compelling albums of the year. Not easy listening, but an album which will reward the listener that gives it due consideration.