Nicole Reynolds – This Arduous Alchemy

Sunday night following the Super Bowl, I turned on XPN and heard the most beautiful voice coming out of my radio. I stopped dead in my tracks, completely forgetting what I had set out to do, and focused on the dulcet tones of Nicole Reynolds. The slight twenty-something from Pittsburgh, Pa. studied jazz guitar and composition in college and released her first album, Wolves Won’t Eat Us, in August 2006.

Reynolds’ roots lay in protest songs but this past October she self-released This Arduous Alchemy, a collection of songs that long for love and are full of wit, putting a modern twist on her traditional folk sound. It’s easy to compare Reynolds to her renowned contemporary Mirah, as her voice carries the same sweet and mesmerizing quality, but Reynolds is almost impossibly vulnerable.

This Arduous Alchemy starts off with “Here Right Now,” a track full of uncertainty regarding a lover and asks, “Would you hand me your heart / If I needed a start / Pumping blood through / This November?” The need to validate a relationship and love with such questions more than alludes to a deep sense of insecurity. The meeting of scorned former lovers is detailed on “When We Meet Again” explains the intense physical reactions she and her ex experience upon a reunion; “My bones will ache / My muscles shake / My blood will rush / My face will flush” tells of extreme discomfort in the situation. Additionally, Reynolds outlines the mental reactions to her former flame as well; “The past will flash / It’s all rehashed / Our ship has sailed / Train derailed / Engine failed us.” Anyone with a past lover can understand and commiserate with her words.

The remainder of the album touches on the same uncertainty and self-consciousness associated with love and the pain that comes with losing it. 12 tracks laid out by a singer-songwriter never sounded more beautiful and heart-wrenching than Nicole Reynold’s This Arduous Alchemy, available on An absolute must-own.

Nicole Reynolds website | myspace

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