Skeleton Tree proves to be a stylistic shift for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The album is heavily influenced from the death of Cave’s 15-year-old son Arthur, who died from an accidental fall off a cliff.
In later recordings, the album had lyrics amended to capture the ideas and themes of death, personal grief and loss. These themes are what really drive the album to be as somber as it is.
Along with the album comes the film One More Time with Feeling, which shows the aftermath of Arthur Cave’s death and the recording process that went into Skeleton Tree. The album only has 8 songs, but most of them come in at about five minutes or more, so the album feels more drawn out and longer than it actually is.
“Jesus Alone” sounds like a mourning hymn as Cave croons throughout the song. The almost spoken-word style of singing coupled with eerie synths in the background create a haunting tone for the single. About midway through the song, an orchestral composition picks up with a piano and a violin to add to the power of the message the song is conveying.
“I Need You” carries the same tone that “Jesus Alone” brings in terms of sadness.
The track sounds more simplistic because of its focus on vocals, with only the drums and synths in the background. Cave continuously sings, “Cause nothing really matters,” as he expresses needing his son back and having a loss of meaning because of his death.
The album draws deep from Cave’s experience with his son’s death and captures pure emotion throughout the album. The music really captures the feeling of the events and comes out unadulterated through his crooning vocals and the deep cuts from the synths that just tug at the heart.
Cave takes his listeners to the depths of pain that he went through and the experiences that brought him to this point.
by Sean Lynch