“Such things should never happen,” intones Nick Cave gravely, “but they do.” His most recent LPs, Ghosteen (2019) and Carnage (2021), were recorded in the aftermath of the death of his teenage son in 2015; another son, 31-year-old Jethro Lazenby, has since died. Seven Psalms, a short album of spoken word accompanied by Warren Ellis’s incidental music, is one more work thrown out by the centrifugal force of Cave’s grief; a bijou religious artefact on 10in vinyl available from his ephemera emporium, Cave Things.
Curiously, these short tracks also hark back to the quietened Cave of 2001’s album of solemn love songs, No More Shall We Part. Because these psalms are lovesick prayers – a kinder God than often appears in Cave’s back catalogue. “When will I awaken to your love?” he wonders, pained, yearning for mercy, grace and heavenly succour. Imagery from the past few years recurs, subtly altered.
On Such Things Should Never Happen, swallows fall from their nests and babies breathe their last under “the vast indifferent sun”. On I Have Wandered All My Unending Days, Cave seeks entry to “the mansion in the sky” (on Carnage, it was a “kingdom”). You could, just about, call these psalms remixes, in that the thematic stems hold true. But there is respite, too, in the gentler notes and oscillations of Splendour, Glorious Splendour.