CD review: Familiar Ghosts by Shane Nicholson

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I should have reviewed this album in 2008 but better late than never …

When Kasey Chambers married Shane Nicholson, I’d barely heard of him; the cynical amongst us might suggest that we would never have heard of him otherwise anyway, but I refuse to believe that, because Shane is one of the greatest singer-songwriters and performers working today. He is hugely talented and quietly understated, two qualities which are prevalent in the 2008 release Familiar Ghosts.

Shane plays all the instruments on this album, but it doesn’t sound like a cobbled-together track-by-track effort. The songs are, necessarily, not as noisome as those on his first two solo albums, It’s a Movie and Faith and Science, which were full-band efforts, but they are no less complete and, sometimes, complex as songs.

As I’m fond of a slightly sad, if not wistful, ballad, my two favourite songs are the melancholy ‘Summer Dress’ (which Shane has said started off as a murder ballad and then turned into a missing-girl ballad) and the somewhat nihilistic ‘Long Time Coming’. They are the most down-tempo songs on the album, though, and that probably says more about my tastes than Shane’s songwriting inclinations.

Certainly, there is plenty of rock and groove here (‘Who’s At Your Window’, ‘Easy Now’), and some up-tempo tunes too (‘Where the Water Goes’, ‘God and Elvis’). It’s a well-rounded collection and a nice segue from Shane’s two earlier albums to his latest, Bad Machines. It’s an album I keep going back to, as are all Shane’s albums, as there’s always something else to find there.

www.shanenicholson.com

Shane Nicholson, Familiar Ghosts (Essence/Liberation, 2008)
Now available on iTunes

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