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Mick Harvey: Sketches From The Book Of The Dead (Album Review)


Mick Harvey broke from the Bad Seeds back in 2009. Bad Seeds being the group famed for backing Nick Cave. With exception to a light project here and there, this is really the first we’ve heard from Harvey. Sketches From The Book Of The Dead is his first stab at strolling down his own path, and it’s one that should not be ignored.

Mick Harvey’s new album follows an interesting path. The openers are stark folk-tinged pieces that echo of modern underground greats like Howe Gelb and Bill Calahan, but with a more contemporary edge.

Contemporary is a word often associated with those of a certain age, and Harvey, at 52, has been creating great music for decades. So it’s no surprise that his sound is a bit more mature.

“Frankie T. & Frankie C.” blends the two and adds hints of a pop influence, while “To Each His Own” drops in quite unique layered harmony vocals — some slightly higher pitched, some a deep baritone, and others a mere sung whisper. Harvey brings back these harmonies in the superb “Famous Last Words”.

Overall, Sketches From The Book Of The Dead is an outstanding album, filled with songs that draw in the listener. Harvey has the uncanny ability to create something undeniably cool, while simultaneously clashing it with that which your father and mother might appreciate. That alone is quite a feat.

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Mute Records [CD, 2011]

1. October Boy
2. The Ballad Of Jay Givens
3. Two Paintings
4. Rhymeless
5. Frankie T. & Frankie C.
6. A Place Called Passion
7. To Each His Own
8. The Bells Never Ring
9. That’s All, Paul
10. How Would I Leave You?
11. Famous Last Words

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