Alex Nicol “Been A Long Year Vol.1 & Vol.2”

Independent, 2023

Montreal melancholia chills nicely.

Having released ‘Been A Long Year Vol.1’ as an EP earlier in the year Canadian Alex Nicol has now added another 5 songs to create a full-length album, ‘Been A Long Year Vol.1 & Vol.2’. The album is a melancholic piece in the main; Nicol’s vocals a perfect match for the often quite languorously paced tracks.

Song For Franz’ is a typically thoughtful, contemplative number as Nicol dwells on his struggles to understand and express his emotions in a world where men tend to hold these emotions in. It also acts as a lament of sorts for his late Uncle Franz who passed away at about the same time as he wrote the song.

As the title intimates, although not sounding worlds apart stylistically, Nicol approached each volume independently. If Vol.1 offers a personal and reflective narrative the second set of songs take a wider view with songs that comment on the climate emergency, to finding solace in the natural world, to touching tributes to lost loved ones; its songs are noticeably panoramic in their outlook.

Simple Fires’ attaches a lovely, meandering rhythm that is at odds with its state of the planet subject matter. In Nicol’s own words “I wrote this song about the figurative, metaphorical ways in which the world was burning, but it took on greater gravity during the devastating Canadian wildfires of summer 2023.’ With a similarly weighty subject matter in mind the most instantly compelling track on the album is ‘Simmer’ and again Nicol uses a quicker tempo, this time with a deep groove running through the heart of the song to offer up, “Guns can’t speak, they only silence a deeper truth.”

Been A Long Year Vol.1 & Vol.2’ is an album that reveals more of itself with each play. It is an album full of subtleties, of gentle meanderings and of thoughtful and contemplative songwriting. Of ‘Working On My Tan’, a song inspired by the simple pleasure of enjoying the natural world around him, Nicol asks us to slow down, to relax and take a moment. It is a sentiment that could be attached to the whole album.

7/10
7/10

About Peter Churchill 176 Articles
Lover of intelligent singer-songwriters; a little bit country; a little bit folk; a little bit Americana. Devotee of the 'small is beautiful' school of thought when it comes to music venues.
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