After ten years of constant touring, churning through album after album, acclaimed singer-songwriter Shane Nicholson appeared to be done. The man had been a machine, building a stable of soulful country over the years, both by himself and with then-wife Kasey Chambers. However, after the release of a final collaborative effort with Chambers in 2012, the calendar pages turned, and there remained no announcement of any new Nicholson material, an anomaly for the usually prolific writer.
That was until earlier this year, when it was revealed that Nicholson would be releasing his fifth solo album Hell Breaks Loose. Since it's release, Nicholson has seen enormous praise for his most revealing music to date, with Barnaby Smith giving the album four stars, describing it as "a disarmingly interesting listen" and "a sharp, precise record in both music and message".
Recently stopping by the Rolling Stone Australia offices with performances of "Secondhand Man" and "Hell Breaks Loose", Shane Nicholson proved our analysis; perched on a stool and armed with his guitar, his presentation remains simple, elegant and bare. The singles are representative of the overall passage of the album, which Nicholson explains as being "about self-discovery and new horizons, and also how that's not always great." Both tracks are rife with examples of heartbreak, which come particularly to life in Nicholson's acutely mournful renditions.