On his Facebook wall, Jeff Nich offers the following clarification: “Anyone who wonders why I shortened my last name on my latest CD project, go to Google and do a search on ‘Jeff Nicholson,’ then do a search on ‘Jeff Nich.’ That’s why.” That’s a savvy move for an up-and-coming singer-songwriter. But Jeff Nich isn’t looking to make it big. The comment is simply the result of his day job cropping up in his side project. A marketer from Stowe, Nich is looking to get the word out on his debut release, Another Season. The 10 acoustic musings about life among the freshly frosted mountains of Vermont promises to fill up the aforementioned Facebook wall with all manner of positive feedback.
Nich has been dabbling in music since college, and two of his compositions found their way onto local compilation discs in the 1990s. But now the 44-year-old tunesmith is putting his introspective songwriting on full display. With a distinct focus on the simple pleasures of New England living, Nich reimagines, or clearly recounts, personal moments and memories throughout.
He draws parallels on the title track between the drastic temperature shifts of the region and the opportunity for life changes they present. “New England’s got a way of spinning you around / A cold snow on your closed-eye smile / or sunshine on my frown / Changes in the weather, or maybe it’s just me, Needing something to remind me / It’s all a circle that we weave,” he sings. Nich’s concise, thoughtful writing style and vivid imagery fits comfortably over simple but solidly constructed melodies.
The album’s pace is fittingly down-tempo; much of the subject matter pays tribute to the often leisurely way of life in Vermont. The allure of trading in the breakneck speeds of city dwelling for more rural surroundings is the focus of “Moved to the Mountains.” Over prominent piano and layered harmonies Nich explains, “Moved to the mountains to slow down / Moved to the mountains to get a better look around / Seasons spin and spin, oh, what a ride / A finer place to stand and stare must be hard to find.” His vocals, while not always pitch-perfect, have a soothing tone and consistency. The sparse instrumentation serves to further exemplify Nich’s appreciation for simplicity and minimalism.
Jeff Nich is not a full-time musician, but it’s clear his songwriting is more than a passing hobby. Another Season is crisply produced, passionately performed and rife with imagery from our little corner of the world. With all those elements in place, it shouldn’t be long before this lyrically gifted pitchman finds his debut is easily selling itself.