Though Shane Nicholson is now firmly entrenched in Australian country music, with awards aplenty, he’s shown over his strong run of solo albums that he can still maintain a foot in the indie scene in which he forged his songwriting abilities. That positioning has enabled him to straddle alt-country and commercial country with equal aplomb.
Love And Blood is no departure from his previous work, instead it hones in on his strengths of straight song structures, catchy melodies and well-executed musicality with a workmanlike approach. It all seems to fit perfectly, almost too perfectly and seamless. The best country music shows cracks and the musical dirt beneath the fingernails.
The opener and single Safe shares similarities with the reverb-laden guitars, lyrics and cadence of Ryan Adams’ recent work. Elsewhere Nicholson uses po-faced humour in I Don’t Dance and the Justin Townes Earle-ish Someone’s Gonna Pay and shapes astute relationship tales from common phrases on Bad Apple and One Trick Pony. The aforementioned lack of grit is partially compensated by the wonderful New Orleans blues stagger and stomp of God’s Own Army – infectious, rousing and sweet relief from the darker and slower songs on the album. Nicholson leaves us with All I Know, a touching song to his child, a heartfelt piece of advice that will ring true for any parent.
Love And Blood again showcases Nicholson’s mature and consistently strong songwriting, placed right at the junction of country, rock and MOR.