Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Mute Records

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ score to The Assassination of Jesse James… bares no resemblance to Cave’s standard M.O. Nor is it an Ennio Morricone-esque gallop across a dusky desert plane. And by comparison Jesse James takes on a much different approach to soundtrack work than what Cave and Ellis previously offered when teaming up to score to The Proposition.

As a writer Cave traditionally constructs narratives and builds characters in songs by incorporating elements of arty punk jams, gospel and spiritually afflicted blues to accentuate his lyrics. For this score Cave and longtime Bad Seed / Grinderman cohort and Dirty 3 comrade Ellis approach their craft sans words. Sad and ethereal tones culminate in pop song-length chapters, and a lingering violin, slow guitar sweeps and rainy day piano melodies embody layers of Jesse James’s tormented personality. The hook is the gorgeous and scenic quietude of the songs with which Cave and Ellis tell the story of such a captivating character without uttering a single word.

--Chad Radford

Originally published by Creative Loafing. Atlanta, GA.