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Podcast: Country singer Shane Nicholson talks about Ain't Been Loved from his new album Living in Colour

Shane Nicholson has gained a strong reputation as an emotive singer-songwriter and talented music producer.

Shane Nicholson has gained a strong reputation as an emotive singer-songwriter and talented music producer.

Country musician Shane Nicholson found the court process fascinating. He loved spending time sitting in the public gallery, watching his girlfriend - a criminal lawyer - at work.

He didn't know it at first, but that fascination would lead to the release of a thought-provoking song, Ain't Been Loved, on his latest album Living in Colour.

"Just in the course of visiting and watching over a few months I noticed so many returning faces that I came to recognise," Nicholson explains.

"People were coming in and out of the court house for similar, usually domestic violence, cases. They were the same people that kept coming back through the system.

"I ended up sitting in the park opposite the court house jotting down all these ideas which turned into the song.

"It was just something that occurred to me ... realising just how much of this goes on right under our noses, right next door to us, and how much we're not aware of it. And there's people out there trying to help."

  • Hear Shane Nicholson talk about his music and hear his latest songs in our new podcast. If you already have Spotify on your phone and are reading this on your mobile, click on the banner below. Otherwise, download the Spotify app on your phone and search for Celebrating Aussie Country. For more instructions, click here.

The song is told from the perspective of someone who feels they can't escape an abusive relationship: "I just live for you baby / I adore you baby / anything to make you smile / So you can hurt me baby, anytime / I ain't been loved in a while."

And also the sense of despair when: "Everyday becomes another day / And nothing like what I always dreamed about / A reminder of the things I learned to do without."

Nicholson says he's not aiming to offer any solution to what is a vast and complex problem.

"It's not a song where I offer answers ... I just ask questions."

That inquiring mind, a desire to understand people and their motivations, is behind much of Nicholson's work.

His musical influences reach back into his childhood.

Every Friday night, Nicholson's dad would spin the discs on his old record player. The young Shane would listen intently to the artists, from Neil Young through to Bob Dylan and rock 'n' roll.

"It really got under my skin and I had to start writing songs and that led me to forming bands in high school," Nicholson said.

An early band, Freak (which later became Pretty Violet Stain), went on to win a round of Triple J's Unearthed competition.

"It was every teenage boy's dream, I was in a rock band that formed in high school that lasted for about 12 years, toured the world and recorded overseas ... it was very cool. And that was through my late teens and early 20s," Nicholson said.

Nicholson has become one of Australia's pre-eminent singer-songwriters, having released 11 albums, winning three ARIA awards and 11 Golden Guitars.

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He's been a regular at the Tamworth Country Music Festival since his first appearance in 2003.

Rattlin' Bones, the album Nicholson recorded with ex-wife Kasey Chambers, won five Golden Guitars in 2009.

In recent years, Nicholson has turned his attention to production and has twice been named Producer of the Year at the Country Music Awards of Australia.

"I fell into production work sort of accidentally," he says.

"I loved being in the studio so much, it's my favourite part of the music industry, because that's the moment when something goes from an idea to becoming a reality.

"I find it a really special process. But as an artist, you only really get to do it once every couple of years, when you write a record, and then you go on tour and it's two years before you get back in there again.

"That was nowhere near enough for me."

While Nicholson has been involved with producing albums for major names, he says his favourite work is with new artists making their debut albums.

"I know all the fear, I know all the trepidation they bring to the studio and the uncertainty.

"I've been through that and I love walking that line with them and helping them find their feet."

Listen: new country music podcast

To mark the 50th anniversary of the iconic Tamworth Country Music Festival, ACM (publisher of this website) created a new podcast, Celebrating Aussie Country.

The podcast was recorded and released before the recent surge in coronavirus cases that forced the festival's postponement. We are sure you'll still enjoy the interviews and the music. Just bear in mind any references to performance dates are no longer current.

In the 10-part series, available only on Spotify, you'll hear from established and emerging artists and their music.

To listen, you'll need to download the Spotify app on to your mobile phone and search for Celebrating Aussie Country. If you already have Spotify - and you're reading this story on your mobile - click on the banner below and your phone will take you direct to the podcast.

Each podcast episode includes an interview with the artist and some of their music. People with free Spotify subscriptions will hear a 30-second snippet of the song, while those with premium Spotify subscriptions can enjoy the full version.

This story Difficult reality sparks Nicholson's latest work first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.