“those things should never happen,” Nick Cave intones gravely, “but they do.” His most recent LP, Ghost (2019) and Butcher shop (2021), were recorded in the wake of the death of his teenage son in 2015; another son, 31 years old Jethro Lazenbyhe has since died. seven psalms, a short spoken-word record accompanied by incidental music by Warren Ellis, is yet another work thrown by the centrifugal force of Cave’s duel; a 10-inch vinyl bijou religious artifact available from his ephemeral emporium, cave stuff.
Interestingly, these short tracks also hark back to Cave of 2001’s album of solemn love songs. No more will we part. Because these psalms are lovesick prayers: a kinder God than the one who often appears in Cave’s back catalogue. “When will I wake up your love?” he marvels, pained, longing for mercy, grace and heavenly succor. The images of recent years are repeated, subtly altered.
In Such Things Should Never Happen, swallows fall from their nests and babies take their last breaths under “the vast indifferent sun.” In I Have Wandered All My Unending Days, Cave searches for the entrance to “the mansion in the sky” (in Butcher shopWas a “Kingdom”). You could almost call these psalm remixes, in the sense that the thematic roots are true. But there is also a respite in the softer notes and oscillations of Splendor, Glorious Splendor.