by Kaelen Bell
Alex Nicol has described his solo debut as a sort of tribute to — and partnership with — his partner, visual artist Nada Temerinski. In an interview with Cult MTL, Nicol made clear that Temerinski’s position is not that of the traditional muse, but of collaborator and unofficial producer — another creative energy in tandem with his own, influencing and interpreting his work in ways not traditionally recognized in the self-obsessed canon of male singer-songwriters.
The album borne of this fruitful collaborative spirit, the aptly titled All for Nada, is an exploration of equitable relationships, of growing up and finding partnership. It’s a languorous collection of songs that masks its sometimes-thorny subject matter in hazes of guitar, ponderous bass and washes of gold-toned synths.
Nicol’s lyrics are introspective and rarely settled — he asks questions often, contemplating the worlds both inside and around him. He spends equal time on the cosmic beauty of our universe and the 40-hour work week, dissolving the lines between the mundane and the mysterious. The same goes for love – on All for Nada, a relationship is both a comfortable daily ritual and a star-crossed search for something more.
The lounge-y atmosphere and Nicol’s gentle vocal delivery make for a record with few sharp corners or textures. It’s a quiet space, drenched in afternoon light and rich with subliminal markers of the everyday. It’s difficult not to hear Temerinski in these songs. Most seem to be in conversation with or about her. She nearly becomes a second performer, her influence felt in almost every note — sounds made in the space shared by two people in love.
Nicol has a knack for engaging lines like, “I put my trust in the washing today,” “Take the bridge back to me,” “Home is now a construct,” and his relatively dense lyrical content plays against the streamlined music, adding knots of complexity to these simply rendered songs. It’s a pleasing record, and a gently glowing peek into the dynamic possibilities of partnership and of the hidden influence and direct power held by those we love.