Early last year singer-songwriter (and in-demand producer) Shane Nicholson released ‘The High Price of Surviving’, a single co-written with Leyon Milner which won them a Golden Guitar earlier this year. It was a song that acknowledged the bittersweetness of life – not so much that it has ups and downs, because that implies that these things happen sequentially, but that the bitter and the sweet can exist all at once. Nicholson’s new single, ‘Life Ain’t Fine’, could be said to be a companion piece to ‘The High Price of Surviving’ because it contains that same acknowledgement, albeit within a different structure.

‘Life Ain’t Fine’ starts with Nicholson stating that he can’t write a love song but it’s not for want of trying – and then it becomes clear that ‘Life Ain’t Fine’ is, in fact, a love song, although it’s one about losing that love (the bitter and the sweet all at once). It is also a song written in response to Paul Kelly’s song ‘Life is Fine’, and works in some of Kelly’s song titles.

Nicholson’s songs often come in under the three-minute mark, but they never feel like they should be longer, because we’re not missing out on anything. ‘Life Ain’t Fine’ is a full expression of love and regret, wrapped up in a clever play on words and an expression of other sorts of love: for music, for lyrics, for art. Nicholson also uses his voice to both hold and convey these threads: there is sadness and wonder in his tone and, just as with the lyrics, sometimes both at once.

‘Life Ain’t Fine’ is a track from Nicholson’s forthcoming album – release date tbc – and no doubt he’ll be playing it on the following tour dates (listed after the video).

AUGUST20NSWFactory Floor, Marrickville
22QLDNQ’s Rockin’ Country Festival, Mackay
27NSWLizotte’s, Newcastle
28QLDGympie Muster
29QLDGympie Muster
SEPTEMBER3SATrinity Sessions, Adelaide
10VICMemo Music Hall, St Kilda
11VICLive at Bundy Hall, Sale
12VICRailway Hotel, Mt Macedon
17ACTHarmonie German Club, Canberra
18NSWBowral Bowling Club
OCTOBER2NSWDeni Ute Muster
 DECEMBER4SAThe Barn at Wombat Flat