Some people exude peacefulness. Nicolette Good is one of those people. She walked in Rosella Coffee smiling, carrying her guitar in its black case. Her brown hair hung down alongside her gentle face. She seemed comfortable as we discussed how we would go about her photo shoot and interview.
Good is a native San Antonian country/folk/Americana singer-songwriter who attended Trinity University and earned a bachelor of arts in English and music. After overcoming a dangerous illness last year, she is finally releasing her new album, “Little Boat on a Wave” on Friday. Rosella Coffee will host the free album release concert at 9 p.m. It’s her first performance in a very long time.
During the week of Christmas in 2014, just as her album was nearing completion and gearing up for release, Good was diagnosed with a bacterial infection in her brain and underwent emergency surgery.
“The bacterium was called fusobacterium and it was pretty rare for an infection to become ‘seeded’ like that,” she said. “Most infections are the result of a cut, scrape or bite, but I had none of those. Doctors kept asking me if I had had any dental procedures or accidents or weird hair procedures done.”
She said the recovery process dragged on for about a month, but just as she was beginning to feel better, she received more bad news. She had an abscess in her brain which called for a second surgery. Now, three surgeries later and a titanium plate in her head, she’s doing all right.
“There were some scary moments and moments when I didn’t know how things were going to turn out so I feel a little less inclined to censor myself now. Less inclined to judge myself,” she said. “I’ve been embracing new experiences in a way that I hadn’t before.”
As a result of her infection, surgery or both, Good lost a significant amount of feeling in her left hand. At first it was severe enough to keep her from being able to play the guitar and type, but now she has regained most functionality.
Good has had better years than others. In 2013 she was accepted into an artist residency program on a tiny island in the Long Island Sound in New York. The program, Lighthouse Works, accepts three artists of different mediums to share an old Victorian Home with the program’s directors for six weeks on Fishers Island. The Island is lined with rocky shores, seldom crowded, and a downtown that consists of essential stores. The program’s website states things never quite seem to happen on schedule, and no one seems to care – an environment that seems to provide artists the freedom needed to create greatness. Good said all seven of the songs on her album were either written, finished, or inspired during the residency.
Listen to the podcast below for an interview with Good and some sample clips from her new album:
“I went up there in the winter, tried to stay warm, and just kind of worked on songs in a room essentially by myself for six weeks. I think that’s kinda where this organic and intimate feel came out of because it was just me and the guitar and the lyrics and time to think – and a bottle of whiskey,” she said.
“Little Boat on a Wave” is more organic, Good said, free from the stylized and produced nature of her previous album, “Monarch.” Good dreamed up the song while on a ferry boat in California that she “was pretty sure was one wave away from capsizing.” To keep herself distracted, she wrote the first verse and chorus in her head.
She recorded the album here in San Antonio and wound up tracking most of the songs live.
“So the take that you hear is what everyone played in that take,” she said. “That’s what I was going for. I wanted people to come see a live show, pick up a record, and be able to take home a little bit of that experience that they saw live.”
The session players included K Phillips,Darren Kuper, Greg Norris and Raul Alvarez. Good said the experience was natural and not clouded by outside influences. When it comes to writing a song, Good said she is most inspired by the life stories of others.
“People’s stories and just kind of the everyday poetry of people’s lives get me going,” she said.
She said the song “Hurricane Caroline” on her previous album is about one of her previous roommates who personified the traits of a hurricane. Here are three stanzas from the song:
Here she comes, our pretty Hurricane
Wrecking homes in new towns under a different name
At first she was a breeze, but now she’s mostly rain
Caroline, our hurricane
The landlord would complain
About most everything
She wrote out Dylan songs in lipstick on the walls
And the boys she brought home
Were never the same twice, no
Since William broke her heart last fall
Good said it took time, retrospectively, before she could digest this experience with her former roommate and turn it into a work of art. Good’s songs are lyric and melody oriented with her voice as the driving force behind the structure.
“I just love pretty sounds,” she said.
For more information about Good, visit her website here.
*Featured/top image: Nicolette Good sits with her guitar. Photo by Scott Ball.