Where the Viaduct Looms: Nell Smith gives new meaning to nine songs by Nick Cave



REVIEW: A 14-year-old girl singing with a group of guys four times her age might seem like a strange proposition, but the way it came to be is even stranger.

Nell Smith was only 10 when she went to her first Flaming Lips gig and quickly fell in love with the psychedelic rockers and their notoriously loud live performances.

She always wore her favorite parrot costume at shows (all attendees at a Lips show are encouraged to dress up) and was right up front in Calgary when singer Wayne Coyne serenaded her with a cover of Bowie’s space oddity. She knew every word and sang them to him.

Impressed by his passion, an unlikely friendship formed between the couple and they maintained contact through his father.

Nell Smith is joined by The Flaming Lips for a Nick Cave cover album titled Where The Viaduct Looms.


Nell Smith is joined by The Flaming Lips for a Nick Cave cover album titled Where The Viaduct Looms.

* 30: Why the last time capsule of an Adele album is also an instant classic
* An evening with Silk Sonic: Anderson Paak and Bruno Mars’ tonic for toxic times
* Blue Bannisters: Lana Del Rey delivers another impressive and introspective album

Expressing that she was keen on making her own music, he recommended that she start with covers and suggested Nick Cave, whom she had never heard of. She recorded a few vocals, sent them to Coyne, who played them for the rest of her band. They loved her style so much, they promised that if she did it more, they would be happy to serve as her backing group. So she did.

The result is Where the viaduct looms by The Flaming Lips and Nell Smith. Nine covers of Nick Cave that take on entirely new meanings in his hands. Nick Cave himself is impressed. After releasing their version of Amber girl, a dark cut of The skeleton tree, he responded by saying, “Nell shows a remarkable understanding of the song, a sense of fairness that is both beautiful and scary. I love it. I’m a fan.”

Great praise indeed.

It’s fascinating listening, with moments of inspired genius. As you would expect from a young Flaming Lips fan, Smith takes an idiosyncratic approach to Cave songs with weird and wonderful results. His accompanying musicians stay away most of the time, keeping the arrangements light, sparse and decorative.

Fans of Cave or The Lips will appreciate this creative work and everyone will have different leads to grab hold of them. I especially like the slow build and strict announcement of O children and their captivating shot The song of the ship, but my favorite is easily We know who you are, although I can’t say if it’s because of their ethereal rendition, or how much I love this song anyway.

There is a goosebumps at times in Cave’s music, a quivering wickedness that sometimes surfaces, but in Smith’s innocent hands it is completely absent. Instead, the songs echo with curious joy.

It is easy to deride the Mancunian soft rockers Elbow, with their overly pretty melodies and their tendency to take themselves too seriously, but under their pretentious appearance hides a group that sometimes attains greatness.

They emerged during the shift OK Computer years, when everyone was trying to emulate Radiohead. Travis came and went. Coldplay started out hot, but quickly cooled down to mediocrity, and Muse stepped up to cater to fans upset over the lack of guitars in Radiohead’s subsequent release.

Since their Mercury Award-nominated debut 20 years ago, Elbow has quietly taken care of its own business and every few years comes up with another batch of melancholy tunes that, more often than not, rise to explosive crescendos of pure joy. If you are not sure what I mean, hit play on 2003 Rib cage, turn up the volume and let in the sun.

Flying dream 1 is more sober than their usual price, more meditative than explosive. A quiet affair that is exploratory, without getting lost, distinguished gentlemen are in an introverted form. Guy Garvey is in a jazzy and improvising mood at his piano and his soft tenor is in remarkable shape. The minimal arrangements serve these songs well, and it’s a record that mostly appeals to you by not being too noticed.

There are a few exceptions. 6 words sets off in an unexpected rhythm halfway through to demand special attention, and they flip the discreet angle again on What am I without you a grand finale that comes out of the speakers with emphasis.

It is a warm listening, designed for quiet nights, or contemplative walks. This is not their best (it would be the one of 2009 The rarely seen child), but it’s a nice and calming selection.

Source link


Comments are closed.