My first foray into the dark, insular Nick Cave universe was quite an experience. I don’t know how this album ranks within his overall discography, but as a newcomer, I found it spellbinding. Like a cross between Leonard Cohen and Lou Reed, with some touches of Antony and the Johnsons, songs like “Jesus Alone” and “Girl in Amber” register surprisingly quickly for such dark music, and manage to be neither depressing nor hopeless. Instead many of the songs feel like refurbished diary entries from an aging artist with a rough edge who has seen a lot in his life and career, as Cave (or his persona) pitches himself directly to underdogs, with whom he clearly empathizes. It’s less of an album made up of individual songs or singles, and more like a cohesive, atmospheric whole that comes together in the end.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)