Nell Smith and The Flaming Lips – ‘Where The Viaduct Looms’

Nell Smith and The Flaming Lips have joined forces for a new album, Where the Viaduct Looms

Nell Smith and The Flaming Lips
Nell Smith and The Flaming Lips Origins image credit via Atria Creative

Nell Smith and The Flaming Lips give new life to 9 Nick Cave classic and deep cuts on Where the Viaduct Looms.

Produced by: The Flaming Lips

Nell Smith and The Flaming Lips have joined forces for a new album, Where The Viaduct Looms, which aims to tackle 9 Nick Cave classics and deep cuts. Nell, the 13-year-old Canadian singer met the psychedelic band as she became a regular at their shows. Nell would come dressed in her parrot costume and always stand out in the crowd. After several shows, Wayne approached her as he recognized her vibrant smile and parrot costume. Mix in a handful of conversations and text exchanges and the partnership proved to be cementing itself. “It’s always great to meet excited, young creative people,” Wayne Coyne commented in a statement. “With Nell, we could see she is on a journey and thought it would be fun to join her for a while and see if we could get things going. It was a great way to connect with her and help harness her cool attitude to making music.”

Our readers should be familiar with Nell as she and the Lips have released two singles leading up to today’s full LP release: ‘Girl In Amber’ and ‘The Ship Song’. Each track, along with the other 7 Nick Cave covers, offers a glimpse of what Nell is capable of. Nick Cave’s music isn’t for the faint of heart. Often covering themes of death and depression his songs invoke the darker side of life. And hearing a 14-year-old sing his lyrics place the songs in a whole new light. Here’s Nick discussing Nell’s cover of ‘Girl In Amber,’ “This version of ‘Girl in Amber’ is just lovely, I was going to say Nell Smith inhabits the song, but that’s wrong, rather she vacates the song, in a way that I could never do,” said Cave. “I always found it difficult to step away from this particular song and sing it with its necessary remove, just got so twisted up in the words, I guess… Nell shows a remarkable understanding of the song, a sense of dispassion that is both beautiful and chilling. I just love it. I’m a fan.” And compliments aren’t just coming from Cave, Wayne Coyne praised Nell and how she brought herself to trust the whole process in a recent conversation he had with her, “…but I think with your voice and your personality, you really are a great vehicle of your own design, you represent your music…that’s why I’m so drawn to it. And knowing you and knowing your dad, I think it’s just a great and powerful thing.”

One of the highlights on the album is ‘Red Right Hand.’ It is a track that has been covered by some of the biggest names in music: Arctic Monkeys, Giant Sand, PJ Harvey, Iggy Pop, and even Snoop Dogg. Like the other tracks on Where The Viaduct Looms, Nell’s vocal performance transforms this classic Nick Cave song into something no one could have envisioned. It’s also where the title of the album comes from: “Take a little walk to the edge of town. And go across the tracks. Where The Viaduct Looms. Like a bird of doom. As it shifts and cracks. Where secrets lie in the border fires.”

Wayne discusses what made this project work so well, “(with) a lot of artists, you take them out of the songs and the songs aren’t that good. But with Nick Cave, you can take him completely out of it and put a completely different entity in there and you see just how beautiful these songs are.” And he’s right, Nell’s voice brings these songs to a new life due to her willingness to try whatever was asked. It was her approach that was what mattered, “we want to hear that you are not so confident, (but) that you are trying….” says Coyne. It’s moments like this that prove Wayne to be a wonderful person and mentor. Someone who cares about others and their development.

Keep an eye out for Nell possibly joining The Flaming Lips for their NYE sets at The Caverns in Nashville. A lot of stars need to align (covid, schedules, rehearsals, flights, etc.) to make this happen, but many have aligned to this point. And good things happen to good people that work hard. Nell and Wayne can attest to that.

Standout Songs: Girl In Amber, The Kindness of Strangers, Red Right Hand

Where The Viaduct Looms is now available on your favorite streaming services.


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