Album Review: Various Artists - Straight To You: Triple J Tribute to Nick Cave (2011 LP)

Triple J’s celebration of ‘Oz Music Month’ sees the station highlighting and showcasing the cream of Australia’s music crop, as well as fresh artists just breaking out, proving that local talent is still going strong, even against the commercially popular American material holding top chart positions here.

The Straight To You tour was just one of the ways Triple J gave Australian music and musicians a pat on the back, hosting a national tribute tour to one of the country’s most prolific songwriters, Nick Cave. Gathering together a cast of talented musicians, Cave’s songbook got a good work out, and all up produced a great live recording.

Kram, best known for his work in Spiderbait, opens the show with “Red Right Hand”, a brooding, drum-driven reworking of Cave’s original. It’s Kram in a different light, one that exposes him more as a vocalist; the audience were clearly impressed with his take on the song, whooping at various points during and after. The true collaborative nature of the show comes through at many points on the recording. Muscles and Bertie Blackman's rendition of “Do You Love Me”, and “O Children”, performed by Urthboy, Alex Burnett and Blackman, bring about some of the more haunting moments of the show. Muscles, in particular, known for his dance music productions, shines as he takes lead vocals. Out of the entire ensemble, it’s fair to say that he sounds the most like Cave.

The emotional punch that drives the majority of Cave’s lyrics is something that I’ve always admired; the way he forms his words into beautiful yet melancholic melodies is brilliant, and leaves an impact each time. Lisa Mitchell’s performances of “The Ship Song” and “Into My Arms” captured these emotions perfectly, with her wispy vocals and the childlike qualities to her performances making every lyric seem even more fragile. Her rendition of “Into My Arms” is a particular standout, and if you’ve seen the footage of the performance, featuring Bluejuice's Jake Stone, it serves to be even more moving.

Other favourite performances of mine include “Straight To You” by Adalita, and Alex Burnett’s chilling cover of Rowland S Howard's “Shivers”. With so many performances by artists of different genres, including Tim Rogers, Paul Kelly and Dan Sultan, Straight To You proves and highlights both the longevity of Cave’s career, and how his work has filtered into such an array of genres. A brilliant live show, one that I wish I could have been to in person.