Behind Jake Nicoll’s “Quiet Song of the Year,” Half of Nothing

You know, definitively, who you’re listening to when you hear a song by Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Bill Callahan … some songwriters sound like no one but themselves, and in an age where everything’s been done, what more can we strive for? Jake Nicoll is one of those songwriters.

In addition to being one of the city’s more interesting songwriters, he’s also one of its most prolific: he proved that this year with the release of a double album in an era of EPs. Where most bands are recording the last 4 songs they wrote, Nicoll is consistently releasing ample work under two monikers (his name, or, Run to the Rocks), and across all genres. All while playing with or recording for other bands.

Until recently, he toured the world as The Burning Hell’s drummer. It was during a European tour with The Burning Hell that he wrote “Half of Nothing.” “We were on our way out of Munich when our van broke down, leaving us with a lot of time to kill on the side of the highway. Luckily I had my guitar handy. Why not write a song about disappointment, rather than just sitting around feeling disappointed?,” he jokes.

“Actually, I know it comes off as a sad or negative sentiment, but I still feel like there is a positive feeling underneath it all. In the end we can’t take for granted that anything works. I think it’s easy to assume that the natural state of things is to work, to function, and that when things are broken that’s abnormal. But maybe it’s the other way around? The status quo is actually dysfunction and the fact that anything works at all is a tasty surprise.”