Friday, 14 January 2011

The Boatman's Call {1997}.


"There's hardly any instrumentation. Everyone in the band suppressed their ego for the greater good of the record. 
Apart from me, of course... my ego runs riot, as ever."
Nick Cave

1. Into My Arms
2. Lime Tree Arbour
3. People Ain't No Good
4. Brompton Oratory
5. There Is A Kingdom
6. (Are You) The One That I've Been Waiting For?
7. Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere?
8. West Country Girl
9. Black Hair
10. Idiot Prayer
11. Far From Me
12. Green Eyes

His previous album Murder Ballads had brought Nick Cave's morbidity to near-parodic levels, which makes the disarmingly frank and introspective songs of The Boatman's Call all the more startling. A song cycle equally inspired by Cave's failed romantic affairs and religious doubts, this record captures him at his most honest and despairing -- while he retains a fascination for gothic, Biblical imagery, it has little of the grand theatricality and self-conscious poetics that made his albums emotionally distant in the past. 

This time, there's no posturing, either from Cave or the Bad Seeds. The music is direct, yet it has many textures, from blues to jazz, which offer a revealing and sympathetic bed for Cave's best, most affecting songs. There is a subdued grace and, at times, fragile beauty to these recordings that are filled with only the sparest accompaniment; often just piano, organ, light percussion or violin. 

It appears throughout that Cave is trying to poison his cake and eat it too - The Boatman's Call is one of his finest albums and arguably the soulful masterpiece he has been promising throughout his career.

It's hard to argue against the opener, 'Into My Arms', which in an appropriate environment could surely make even the most hardened of souls sniff or choke with emotion. You can find it in the Gifthorse section of 'Nothing Rhymes with Nothing'...

Here's the close runner-up, the very lovely "(Are You) The One That I've Been Waiting For?"...

Artist: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Album: The Boatman's Call
Released: 3rd March 1997
Recorded: June - August 1996, in London
Length: 52:07
Label: Mute/Reprise
Producer: Flood, with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds


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