Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

Nick Cave announcing a new album is always welcome news in our house. After witnessing his recent ‘In Conversation’ tour, where everything was stripped back, raw, emotional, funny and a real one-off event, plus reading his brilliant responses to fans’ questions via his ‘Red Hand Files’ emails,  predicting where he could go next with his artistic endeavours was anyone’s guess. Fuelled with this new sense of connecting with his fans, ‘Ghosteen’ seems to have taken on board some of the emotional intensity of those shows

Whereas previous albums have involved an assortment of characters, the lyrics involved on ‘Ghosteen’ seem to reflect issues closer to home – like hymns to his present situation and where he finds himself at this moment in time.

It’s a delicate sound, one which conjures up the cosyness of being indoors when the weather is torrid, or one which is absorbed into your eardrums via the intimacy of headphones. There’s a distinct lack of drums on the album, with many songs left to float along in their own rhythm with just Nick’s voice, a piano, and maybe some strings here, or some additional noises there. It’s as if the songs are so fragile, the band didn’t want to restrain them in any way with more assertive rhythmic beats.

Opener ‘Spinning Song’ with its refrain of “peace will come in time” is a tune which appears to be written in order to reach out and be a comfort, with its myriad of gentle sounds, keyboards, and choir the only backing to Cave’s emotive yet soft vocals. The theme of moving on reappears on ‘Sun Forest’ with Cave singing “as the past pulls away and the future begins, I say goodbye to all that as the future rolls in” as the song builds in its intensity.

The overall atmosphere is one of elegiac and other worldly ambience, with gentle background choirs and Nick’s expressive vocals always managing to convey the emotion and narrative within the song, without ever raising the volume too much. Hushed emotive tones are the order of the day on ‘Ghosteen’ as the delicately stated ‘Waiting For You’ and ‘Galleon Ship’ imply.

Watching the online comments fly past as the preview playback was in full flow was an enlightening experience, the majority of comments positive, and some longing for a return to more aggressive, rock related tunes, I suppose it’s hard to please everyone. At the end of the day, it’s Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – their greatness lies in forging their own path, and writing songs that always defy convention in both music and lyrics. What these songs lack in speed and drums, they more than make up for in sheer emotional intensity. Another brilliant work from one of the best bands on the planet- an album of understated, delicate beauty.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Ghosteen – Out Now (Ghosteen / Bad Seed Ltd)


From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.