Jonas Nicholson, a singer-songwriter from Syracuse, NY, released his fourth studio album in May of this year. listless amiss is a collection of eight songs that showcase Nicholson’s lyricism and inspiring guitar work in a minimalistic way.
When I say minimalistic, I mean it in both a positive and negative way. The entire album features Nicholson and his guitar. It proves to be as intimate an experience as possible through a recording. No overdubs, no metronome, imperfections and all. It very much sounds like Nicholson recorded this entire record in his bedroom with a couple microphones and a computer in an afternoon.
The downside of this album for me is that a record this intimate needs to sound clean, as if the performer is right in your speakers. The production is pretty low-fi, and like I mentioned before, sounds like it was recorded in an apartment building. There’s a noticeable amount of background noise that keep these songs from hitting the listener as hard as they should. On top of that, the guitar sounds very dull. It may be old strings, it may be the sound of the guitar itself, but some brightly ringing strings would really help these chords and harmonics fill the sound field.
There’s nothing bad about Nicholson’s songs themselves though. He’s a good songwriter and is one hell of a player. He keeps things interesting by intertwining chords with some melodic fills that remind me of some of Rob Scallon’s beautifully inspiring original music. Nicholson has a great voice too, but I would absolutely love for it to be backed up by a recording that resembles the production quality of something like Jack Johnson’s In Between Dreams. Clean and crisp, yet simplistic.
listless amiss is by no means a bad record, but it does feel like a lot of missed potential. It’s something that sounds less like an album for the listener, and more like an album for Jonas Nicholson himself. Something perfect for a lazy Sunday when you don’t need to give music much thought, but hey, it’s my job to analyze.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
*edited by Danielle Kenedy