We don’t often go on journeys with musicians any more. Not over the length of an album. From iTunes to Spotify, we live in an ocean of musical particles, and are becoming particles ourselves: skipping and playlisting, downloading fragments and mostly listening alone.
In that respect, Nick Cave belongs to another time, when the likes of Neil Young’s On the Beach, David Bowie’s Low and Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man wove an outsider sensibility and the unsettled ambience of an era into a unified set of songs. It may be with his new album, Push the Sky Away, Cave has achieved that goal today. What’s certain is he has produced a record of the same shape-shifting significance as The Good Son (1990) and The Boatman’s Call (1997). Which is to say it is nothing like those previous albums, except in that they broke with all previous expectations and took Cave someplace else.
Push the Sky Away is Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ 15th album. It was produced like their last three in collaboration with Nick Launay, and was recorded on vintage analogue equipment at La Fabrique studio in the rural surrounds of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, the birthplace of Nostradamus and the region where Van Gogh painted The Starry Night.
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