In Endless Autumn, Portland songsmith J. Nicolás evokes the melancholy and meditative aspects of a life lived on the road.
The opportunity for contemplation that accompanies a slow advance through wide-open spaces is intertwined with the romantic vision of America. Coupled with a song — in this case, Endless Autumn by J. Nicolás — its draw is undeniable.
The songwriter has spent much of the last two decades traversing the country as part of various projects, and he committed his full-length debut record, Wild Oak, to tape earlier this year. In the newly released single, Endless Autumn, that time behind the wheel has been channelled into a singular, poetic statement.
In the best traditions of Americana and alt-country, the sounds of Endless Autumn invite you to listen closely and get intimate with its characters. The realism with which the instruments are captured is commendable; from the entry of the guitar and the gentle hiss of the tape onwards, you’re in the room with the band. As Nicolás lyrically paints the picture of a late winter storm in the opening phrases, his voice barely rises above a whisper. Yet, it’s there — holding sway amid the sonorous piano chords.
Upon the entry of Ezza Rose’s harmonies, a different kind of ambience is hinted at. This ethereal texture is leaned into further in the second verse with the addition of what sounds like a thick pad of vintage string machine, effortlessly gelling the mix.
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The sensation of travel — as well as the memories (and ghosts from the past) that this unique form of meditation can shake loose from the back of your mind — are themes that loom large in Endless Autumn. And considering the amount of time we’ve been confined to home in recent times, this song and its message is a welcome respite.