Shane Nicholson – Faith and Science


A CD Review

Fans of Crowded House should warm up quickly to this record, released last year in Nicholson’s native Australia, and available Tuesday on iTunes (with general release next month).

“Faith and Science” once again demonstrates the ability of performers from Down Under to mine the best of American music. There are traces of everything from Rodney Crowell to Steely Dan here, and it sounds more contemporary than most Stateside pop.

“Always Be On Your Side” has the radio-friendly essence of the Eagles’ “Take It Easy,” while the bluesy “Big In Japan” is a clever stab at achieving pop success in Asia while waiting for the rest of the world to join in (“I’ve got the dog/not the bun”).

Nicholson gets vocal help from wife Kasey Chambers on the churning “Stolen Car” and the plaintive “I Can Change.” It’s a family affair all the way around, with brother-in-law Nash Chambers co-producing (as he has on all of Kasey’s albums)

This is the perfect album for cocooning from the world. The dreamy standouts “Safe and Sound” and “All the Time in the World” define the mood. But other tracks on “Faith and Science” explore darker places. “Tourist (Stand in One Place)” digs at the arrogance of big cities, while the barren album closer (“Home”) heartbreakingly probes Nicholson’s road weariness: “I’m only a spark in the fire/I’m only a voice on the air/I’m wide awake in Hollywood/but I could be anywhere.”

“Faith and Science” has only one real liability: a certain sameness from track to track. But if Nicholson’s easily digestible sound is what you’re looking for, that probably won’t matter.

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