LOVE AND BLOOD Shane Nicholson Universal/ Lost Highway www.shanenicholson.com
Queenslander Shane Nicholson won an ARIA award as well as a Golden Guitar trophy for his previous solo release Hell Breaks Loose, however his singer-songwriter style of music often transcends the country genre. Armed with an earthy voice in the vein of Lyle Lovett, Nicholson delivers another 12 quality tracks on Love And Blood, including the excellent ‘Driving Me Mad’ and the classy ‘Stay’. He slips into rockabilly mode on ‘I Don’t Dance’, and gets devilish on the bar room-styled ‘God’s Own Army’ along with a Louisiana horn section and a rowdy cast of vocalists including Josh Pyke. US artist Buddy Miller adds backing vocals as well as playing the ‘mandola’ on ‘One Trick Pony’, a dark acoustic ballad.
BEFORE THE BRIDGE Eddie Berman Nettwerk www.eddiebermanmusic.com
Los Angeles singer-songwriter Eddie Berman leans more towards folk than country, his vocals bearing an uncanny resemblance to those of Paul Simon. Before The Bridge is Berman’s second album, mostly recorded with a pared-back group of musicians and harmony singers, although his highly proficient finger-picking acoustic guitar style features throughout. There’s tasteful percussion and a piano tinkling away in the background on ‘Easy Rider’, one of the album’s best. There’s a touch of violin to ‘My Will Be Done’ which, along with tracks such as ‘Joann’ and ‘Running’ highlight the album’s quiet, laid-back nature. Other standouts include ‘Untamed’ with its inspirational harmonies, the simplistic but effective ‘Sparrow’, and ‘I Will Not Be Around’ containing Berman’s swirling guitar work.