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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Review: Nick Shane – Live at Blend Coffee House, Dundee 01/04/22

Label: Self released

Date: September 16th, 2022

It feels just about perfect to ease up on the buzzing heavy metal guitars today. Having a piece of acoustics at hand for reviewing purposes, comes like a blessing from the clear blue skies of a Tuesday morning. And a, to me, previously unknown author, can it really get any better? Well, yeah, it can. It can be a great record. Far from me to call Nick Shane’s live recording great, but it sure as hell does the trick.

What’s more, along with the seven tracks recorded live, the promo package includes all seven of them performed in studio setting as well. This way my job is made a whole lot easier, considering I have a frame of reference. At the same time, the two differing parts of this promo induce quite differing thoughts and emotions. This might just come in weird for a straight-up guy like me, used to a single perspective at a musical piece, so I still needed to give this record a bit more time and consideration.

Starting off with a strict genre definition of what Mr. Shane is all about, it was a simple task. Basic Brit-pop as perfected by a whole generation of bands in the 1990’s, building on the foundation of British popular music that grew to superstardom with the Beatles. No swerving left or right. Nick Shane is straight-forward, keeping no influences secret, nor running away from them into quasi-originality. The man has something to express, things to say, confide in his audience, confess to what’s bothering him, etc. With that, he doesn’t stop to think if his music will be called derivative, uninventive or simply heard before.

In the end result, it really doesn’t matter. Overthinking about musical evolution would definitely stray Mr. Shane’s thoughts away from the main objective of his artistic strivings. And those strivings are, I believe, perfectly portrayed within his music.

It’s the atmosphere and feelings that Nick Shane looks to unload upon the listener. Now, with Brit-pop you usually get one of two things, particularly when it comes to the emotional side of music. It’s either just slightly melancholic soundtrack to a long drive down the dewy highland roads or straight up pictures of rainy days in Great Britain. At the same time, it is necessary to note that rainy days are not necessary gloomy or depressive. There are those when you get caught unawares by the rainstorm, with your significant other at hand, just taking a walk. You run for cover, smiling and screaming like crazy, and once you find it, you’re both already soaking wet. There’s a breeze chilling you to the bone, with one solution. A warm hug that leads to a kiss that drains every single drop of rain, both from memory and physical existence as well.

All of the above are definitely on display in Nick Shane’s music. Particularly on the “bonus” part of the record, made in studio, with the full band set, swimming in rhythm and various instrumental additions. On the other hand, the live recording is made by two musicians altogether. Mr. Shane is responsible for the guitar and voice, while accompanied by Mr. Ed Muirhead on a delightfully introduced piano. In this setup, these tracks take on a wholly different color palette. Namely, an overly dark one, shaded in grey, much further dipped in melancholy of “crying in the rain”.

However, various setups aside, Nick Shane, like I already mentioned above, really does the trick. He is expressing his emotions with all the fervor necessary to convince the listener. It’s the valve through which Mr. Shane erupts what’s built up within. In other words, it’s the tool for empathy, because the careful listening session really makes one feel what the man felt while performing these tunes.

At the same time, I think the actual live setting is a much better choice than auditions in the peace of one’s home or the solitude of headphones while striding through the city. And a coffee house, perhaps serving warm beer, is the one place I can think of as being perfect for an artist such as Nick Shane, offering just about the right amount of solitude or privacy in a crowded room.