Jan 182024
sean rowe red right hand

The final single from the Bad Seeds’ eighth album, “Red Right Hand” has become one of their most famous songs despite not starting out as much of a hit. This is both because of how often they play it in concert and its use in popular media. (It has become their fifth most popular cover, something that surprises me as a big Nick Cave fan.) The song oozes a vaguely western menace and feels very much a thematic predecessor, lyrically and musically, to their next album, Murder Ballads (though Cave had been writing about characters like this for years).

We at Cover Me last heard from singer-songwriter Sean Rowe a year ago with his stripped down duet cover of “Hold On” with Alisa Amador. For this fairly elaborately arranged Nick Cave song Rowe opts for his usual approach, just himself with a guitar. Rowe has been doing “house concerts” for at least a year now. He plays solo shows in fans’ homes and this cover of “Red Right Hand” was performed in someone’s backyard, in front of what looks to be about 20 people.

Rowe staccato finger-picks his electric-acoustic allowing it to take the place of all the instruments in the original. During instrumental breaks, it seems to use a pedal to create a weird, string-bending zooming effect on the high notes, which is the substitute for the bells and organ in the original. Vocally he sticks to the melody but sings a little more traditionally than Cave (who is almost speaking in the original). He also cuts the song length in half.

It’s a straight-forward and simple cover but entirely effective, capturing the feel of the song with none of the adornment of the original.

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