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Boatman's Call


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Audio CD, March 4, 1997
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 4, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Reprise / Wea
  • ASIN: B000002NE4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,593 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Into My Arms
2. Lime-Tree Arbour
3. People Ain't No Good
4. Brompton Oratory
5. There Is A Kingdom
6. (Are You) The One I've Been Waiting For?
7. Where Do We Go Now But Nowherer?
8. West Country Girl
9. Black Hair
10. Idiot Prayer
11. Far From Me
12. Green Eyes

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

After a career spent tearing down the world with horror and disgust, Nick Cave finally sounds ready to start rebuilding from scratch. He's begun to find a quiet grace, and perhaps even beauty, past all the darkness that's long consumed him. Amid the ashes of a world unable to exorcise its demons, Cave actually finds love; a strange, twisted, doomed love, perhaps--but love nevertheless.

On The Boatman's Call, Cave's latest collection, the singer-songwriter finds room for the personal, the spiritual, and even the hopeful in his grey psyche. With only the sparest accompaniment--often just a piano or organ, light percussion, and violin (care of Dirty Three's Warren Ellis)--Cave employs traditional folk song structure and simplicity to weave tales saddened less through tragedy as through emptiness. Songs like "Into My Arms" and "(Are You) The One That I've Been Waiting For?" are among Cave's most self-assured and soulful to date. Stripped down and grown up--though still ghoulish and grave--Cave the storyteller has turned into something of a vampire Springsteen.

Ultimately, The Boatman's Call sounds like Cave's attempt to poison his cake and eat it too. For a record so resolute in its denial of divinity, The Boatman's Call's obsession with religious themes and imagery might seem contradictory if they hadn't come from someone like Cave, who fancies himself a fallen angel searching for a ladder back to heaven. Where Gothic meets cathedral, there resides, for better or worse, our dark saint Nick. --Roni Sarig

Customer Reviews

Nick Cave comes full circle with this album.
Michael D. Sobota
A good album to listen to when you are depressed, for Mr Cave will make you feel better in the knowing that there is at least one more tormented soul out there.
Esenada
A suite of understated, brooding pieces on the dissolution of a relationship, this is arguably Cave's most mature work.
Stephen Caratzas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Volkswagen Blues on April 1, 2001
Format: Audio CD
You know, the more I listen to "The Boatman's Call," the more I'm convinced that it's not only one of the best albums I own, but may simply be one of the best albums, period. I'm not usually given to untempered praise, but Cave's intelligent, moody and melodic attempt to work through crises of love as crises of faith is a sobering and powerful reminder of just how far brilliant lyrics and great instrumental hooks will get you.
What I like best about this album is that it thinks big. Cave is tangling here with fierce questions: religion, love, whether human nature is naughty or nice. Themes that would often elicit unreflective power ballads or incoherent and angsty slop from other artists pull instead from Cave some of his best pieces, balanced but yearning, often clever but never cute, and understated but overwhelming.
Cave makes his position clear in the album's first line; he's not religious, not a believer, but song after song seems to insinuate that he can't help seeing something of the divine and the devilish in the powerful emotion of love. "Into My Arms," "Are You the One that I've Been Waiting For?", and "The Brompton Oratory" all marry erotic or romantic longing with a sort of spiritual unrest in search of rest.
Other people have tried this mix, of course--Madonna's "Like a Prayer," for example or Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus"--but none have succeeded as Cave has. Even the very few less-than-perfect moments are never less than interesting. But really, almost all of the tracks are songs you'll have memorized before you know it, and they'll still surprise you every time you hear them.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Caratzas on April 27, 2000
Format: Audio CD
"The Boatman's Call" demonstrates Nick Cave's considerable gifts as a songwriter like no other of his albums. A suite of understated, brooding pieces on the dissolution of a relationship, this is arguably Cave's most mature work. The Bad Seeds take a back seat to the songcraft, with stripped-down arrangements allowing Cave's naked yearning and anguish to take center stage.
Cave's search for the divine continues on "Into My Arms", "Brompton Oratory" and "There is a Kingdom", songs that sound almost hymnal in their composition. When he sings "Are You the One I've Been Waiting For?" the subject is murky: is Cave talking about his soulmate or God? "Lime Tree Arbour" takes a gothic turn: a boatman standing watch on a lake, a lone bird circling overhead, doomed lovers holding hands in a lonely arbour.
But the album's centerpiece is "People Ain't No Good", possibly Cave's most misanthropic anthem to date: "It ain't that in their hearts they're bad/They'd stick by you if they could/But that's just bullshit/People just ain't no good". This dirge-like song's greatest irony - and chief evidence of Cave's brilliance - is that it is immensely uplifting. Indeed, few people can make feeling bad feel as good as Nick Cave does. Amen.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 12, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This album with its spiritual imagery contains the odd anthemic ballad, like the rousing There Is A Kingdom, but mostly intimate, subdued songs like Into My Arms, Lime Tree Arbour and the resigned People Ain't No Good. Cave interweaves spiritual and sensual metaphor, much like Leonard Cohen. On Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere? one half expects those Cohenesque female vocals to frame his deep voice, but they're not there. My favorite is the weary and erotic Green Eyes, the first line of which is a translation of a sonnet by the medieval French poet Louise Labé. She was the first to write sonnets in French (the style originated in Italy) and was known for her passionate themes. Cave then turns her love poem into a lament of epic proportions filled with equal amounts of romantic longing and despair. Quite a tour de force and enhanced by a strategic swear word or two. The poetic effect is greatly enhanced by the vocal technique: lines are first spoken then sung, which gives it a very ritualistic flavour. Fans of The Boatman's Call would love the albums "New Mother" and "How I Loved You" by Angels of Light, since these contain similar great melodic ballads of gravitas and solemnity.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 2002
Format: Audio CD
If any of you out there know about Nick Cave, you know him either for his frenetic, psychotically energetic lyrical violence (he can be a whirling dynamo onstage, spewing forth anger and hate and exposing the rotten underbelly of emotional intensity), or his subdued, profoundly raw emotion (he can sing a sad, gentle love song better than anyone on the planet).
"The Boatman's Call" is a superb collection of love songs. Simple melodies mix with dramatic instrumentation and perfectly-chosen lyrics to expound on emotion that many, many people never experience themselves. There is a power in Cave's words. There is a spirit, a soul, in his melodies. His music is alive and breathing.
Some gems on the album:
"Lime Tree Arbour" - A simple love ballad with haunting melody and wondrous lyrics.
"People Ain't No Good" - Slow, drifting and misanthropic. One of the best Cave songs out there.
"Brompton Oratory" - Lyrics are rich in imagery and force a mental picture of the scene described. The complex lyric-melody interaction and religious tone make this a personal favorite.
"Black Hair" - Melodic minimalism near its best, this one portrays an obsessiveness that's seldom encountered. The accordion seems to 'breathe' through the song, which drew me closer to the melody, made me consider the song in the first person. Close your eyes listening to this and imagine...it's not simply trivial and pointless to write a song about hair. It's got a lot to show you if you're willing to play along.
And once you've listened to this CD, once you think you've figured it out, check out Cave's lecture on "The Secret Life of the Love Song" and then listen to The Boatman's Call again.
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