Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds / Nick Cave

Henry's Dream

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Continuing the creative roll of Tender Prey and The Good Son, Henry's Dream showed the band in fierce and fine fettle once more. The biggest change was with the choice of producer -- David Briggs, famed for his work on some of Neil Young's strongest albums. While Cave later thought the experiment didn't work as well as he might have hoped, Briggs does a fine enough job, perhaps not letting the group's full intensity through but still capturing a live feel nonetheless. Cave himself offers up another series of striking, compelling lyrics again exploring love, lust and death. Here, though, some of his images are the strongest he's yet delivered, especially with the near apocalyptic "Papa Won't Leave You, Henry," which begins the album brilliantly as the narrator lurches through a landscape of storms, brothels and urban decay. Equally powerful, if slower and calmer, is Dream's lead single, "Straight to You," with Cave delivering a forceful declaration of love. It's the near equal of "The Ship Song," the same sense of beautiful sweep running free. Other numbers like "Brother, My Cup is Empty" and "I Had a Dream, Joe" showcase the Seeds' peerless abilities at fusing older styles with noisy aggression and tension. The former is especially strong, almost dripping with soft then loud musical drama. The quieter numbers aren't to be ignored, though, such as the string-laden "Christina the Astonishing" and especially "Loom of the Land." One of Cave's best songs ever, his portrait of a nighttime walk with a lover is Romantic with a capital R, with a sweet passion that matches the soothing performance from the Seeds, topped off with a particularly fine chorus.

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