Review Summary: "I counted all my blessings and I counted only one"
The Good Son is one of Nick's more neglected albums. Any album opening with a song like Papa Won't Leave You Henry should surely be up there with the greats, but he is generally overlooked in this, his transitional period between the doom-laden screamings and the doom-laden crooning. Both had a lot of humour, black or otherwise, and this album is the perfect example.
The opening track Papa Won't Leave You Henry is truly cinematic. Building from Nick over guitar to crescendos with drums, strings and even harmonica, there's also some truly bone rattling harmonica and the lyrics veering from the comic to the darkly comic. "There's a lynch mob, death squad, babies born without eyes or brains the dead heat and relentless raaiiiin!". Whether this song is related to The Ass Saw The Angel, his novel, I couldn't say. Don't really care either. This song is like plugging your head into some speakers and allowing your darker thoughts to seep through.
I Had A Dream, Joe is another one with his fantastic voice, building and building until it's impossible to concentrate on anything else. This goes into:
Straight To You one of his best love songs to date, and was ripped off by Fix You by Coldplay. The wonderfully hymnal organ, his always brilliant Scott Walker-ian vocals and the Seeds backing vocals add to the mood of complete surrender to what is pouring from your speakers or headphones. Again the speaker linked to head mode.
Brother My Cup Is Empty is a fantastically urgent semi-folk song. "I counted all my blessings and I counted only one". Fantastic. Not more can be said, but his insane chanting parts and the build ups...listen to it yourself and you'll see what I mean. This is followed by the unremarkable Christina The Astonishing. This is a song about a saint, and Saint Nick needn't have put it on here. It's a pleasant enough Russian Othrodox sounding song with some nice organ and vocals, but otherwise it's a greatly resounding MEH!
When I First Came To Town is another one about alienation which he's very good at. At least I think that's what it's about. Nothing stands out to me at least but it's brilliant. This is followed by John Finn's wife, an excellent song an almost epic story of infidelity building over an urgent guitar scrawl to a very small wall of sound. A fence of sound. At one point it turns strangely into something sounding like Atlantis by Donovan, with calm spoken vocals over backing vocals and atmospheric instrumental parts, then GOES BACK! This is why I love Nick Cave. That and for reasons discussed below.
The Loom Of The Land is in my opinion one of THE best love songs written by anyone. On earth. Nick's voice both sepulchral and slightly sexy (can Nick Cave NOT be, even with his ridiculous moustache. Just my opinion maybe but still..is it the voice? Correspondence welcome.), the plunking bass, the subtle wailing guitar and the ethereal backing vocals set the mood perfectly. When Nick Cave sings "I'll never bring you home" it sounds like the most inviting thing on earth, but when he sings "Lay your head on my shoulder" you fear he will cut it off.
Then the spell cast by the wordless outro is shattered by Jack The Ripper, the weakest song for which I docked it half a point. It's just him complaining about woman problems for a while. Not worth listening to if I'm honest. I'd end it after Loom of The Land. Nick Cave albums often have sequencing problems, and this is a case in point, slipped somewhere towards the beginning, it's ok. After a sighingly beautiful and sinister lust-song though, its unneeded.
That said, it's borderline perfect this album, and not just because I'm blinkered by the fact his voice has an unusual effect on me.