In Brief:

**** NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS, "The Good Son," Enigma/Mute. An inquiry into the age-old cycle of sin, retribution and redemption, this collection of songs finds Cave aping the gospel tradition in "The Witness Song," doing the Jimmy Webb/Burt Bacharach thing on "Foi Na Cruz" (one long crescendo of sweeping strings and impossibly grand emotions), delivering two exquisite ballads in the style of Leonard Cohen, and offering a Cain and Abel thriller on the title track. Since debuting in 1976, Cave's work has grown increasingly rich and finely honed, and "The Good Son" may be his best yet.

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