Graham Reid | | <1 min read
Anyone who heard the exceptional alt.country Rattlin' Bones album by Australians Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson of last year (one of the Best of Elsewhere 2008 albums) -- or better still caught them in concert -- will need no second invitation to this, Nicholson's third solo album.
A number of these often brooding and always literate songs will be familiar from the concert, but here is evidence that Nicholson has a wide palette of lyrical colours, and he can as effortlessly shift from a song about a lover now living in Barcelona to a metaphorical piece entitled God & Elvis about lost souls in America.
Nicholson -- who has a dry wit and can frame a Dylanesque twist in a phrase -- possesses a voice of almost ineffable sadness in places and when married to hard-edged images ("first-time killer with a blood red hand, walked away whistling to a Dixie band") it can be quite unnerving but always compelling.
That voice can also engender sympathy for his subjects ("just pray for the light on her soul, in a summer dress and the winter cold") and with weeping steel guitar or deft finger-picking, banjo and lonesome harmonica (all played by himself) this is an emotionally affecting album.