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coverpic flag Australia - Full Moon 180 - 05/17/11

Mick Harvey
Sketches From The Book Of The Dead
Mute / Playground

Sketches From The Book Of The Dead is the 5th solo album from Australian singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Mick Harvey. It is his first fully self-penned album, and succeeds the critical acclaimed 2007 album Two of Diamonds, where he beautifully mixed covers and original material. This one proves that he also is quite astonishing with just his own tunes too.

Mick Harvey may be most known for his long-time collaboration with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, whom he left in 2009. Since then, in addition to his own record, he has worked with PJ Harvey, again, co-produced and played on her last album; Let England Shake. He will also be touring with her most of 2011.

Sketches From The Book Of The Dead is as the title might suggest, a theme album about death, or more pointedly, about what remains after someone has left. The good, the bad, the painful and the angry emotive forms that grows at the edge of a story's end. It is the sound of loss and the shaded life of memories.

As with most of Mick Harvey's earlier works, Sketches From The Book Of The Dead moves in soundscapes shaped after the dark country of Johnny Cash, the blue romance of Leonard Cohen and the traditional stories of folk music. All done with Harvey's signature touch of enchanting melancholy. Yet Sketches From The Book Of The Dead both opens, and closes in an almost blues-rock-fashion with "October Boy" and "Famous Last Words", it is the wistful ballads like "Rhymeless", "Frankie T. (Frankie C.)" and the heart-taking "How Would I Leave You?" that makes the gentle, brutal beauty that is the core of this album.

Mick Harvey has with "Sketches From The Book Of The Dead" made an album that not leaves the listener lightly. In so many good ways.

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You may also want to check out our Mick Harvey article/review: Four (Acts Of Love).

© 2011 Luna Kafé