The Boatman's Call (2011 Remastered Edition)
The sparse, piano-led arrangements and unabashed romanticism of 1997’s The Boatman’s Call heralded a shift away from the menacing post-punk Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds had, until then, built their good name on. But Cave’s powerful poetry proved the band could rise above the confines of genre, and the album’s lasting legacy is as one of the finest in their body of work. It begins in a heavy place—”I don’t believe in an interventionist god, but I know, darling, that you do,” Cave sings over rolling keys on opener and fan favorite “Into My Arms”—and holds itself there. The delicate “People Ain’t No Good” belies the devastation of love attested to in its tearful story of marriage, and on “Brompton Oratory,” Cave delivers a brief tale that covers devotion, lust, and loneliness. The album also marked the official Bad Seeds debut of multi-instrumentalist—and longtime collaborator since—Warren Ellis, whose expressive violin elevates the atmosphere of songs like “Far From Me.” In hindsight, The Boatman’s Call was a harbinger of a new openness—of style, vulnerability, and theme—in Cave’s songwriting that can be traced back here from most, if not all, of his work since.