“What if I lose sight of you?”: Jodie Nicholson Dwells in Haunting Hypotheticals on “What If I”

Jodie Nicholson © Ellen Dixon
Jodie Nicholson © Ellen Dixon
Jodie Nicholson dwells in a space of intimate, unfiltered vulnerability in “What If I,” a hauntingly beautiful song of reflection, connection, and inner reckoning.
for fans of Angie McMahon, Phoebe Bridgers, Gordi
Stream: “What If I” – Jodie Nicholson




It’s easy to feel the fear at the heart of Jodie Nicholson’s latest song.

Got carried away, I daren’t look up this time,” she sings, her tender voice baring a heavy weight. We all lose sight of ourselves from time to time – distraction is a part of the human experience, isn’t it? – but we can never forget who we are or why we’re here; for to lose those things would be to lose ourselves and that very substance that makes us shine.

So when we hear Jodie Nicholson ask, “What if I lose sight of you?” rather than imagine a lover at the receiving end, imagine a mirror image of sorts – only she’s singing not just to herself, but rather, to her whole world: Everything that sums up Nicholson’s identity. The artist dwells in a space of intimate, unfiltered vulnerability in “What If I,” a hauntingly beautiful song of reflection, connection, and inner reckoning.

Safe Hands - Jodie Nicholson
Safe Hands – Jodie Nicholson
Got carried away
I daren’t look up this time
It’s a dead-end maze
Always keeping me up late
Circle round my head
Am I thinking straight, racing to the end?

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “What If I,” the achingly raw second single taken off Jodie Nicholson’s forthcoming sophomore album, Safe Hands (out May 10).

“The concept of being in ‘safe hands’ really spurred me on throughout the making of this record as a reminder that I can actually do these things: I can be the sole-producer, I can record in a recording studio and I can collaborate with session musicians,” the North East singer, songwriter, and producer says of her upcoming LP. “It felt so right as the backbone for this body of work and chapter in my career as an artist and a producer, so naturally became the name of the album. It weirdly became a holistic outlook on the whole project.”

Jodie Nicholson © Ellen Dixon
Jodie Nicholson © Ellen Dixon

The follow-up to 2019’s debut album Golden Hour is already shaping up to be a hauntingly beautiful, all-consuming experience: February saw the release of Safe Hands‘ lead single “Another Frequency,” a gut-wrenching requiem for a love gone sour aching with regret, despondency, and words unsaid. “A haze of emotionally charged atmospheric indie folk, ‘Another Frequency’ hits hard and hurts from end to end, ensuring we feel the weight of the world as it comes crashing down around the artist,” Atwood Magazine recently wrote of the track. “It’s an undeniably stellar, hypnotic moment of musical magic, and an evocative, exhilarating look at what’s to come!”

A cinematic slow-burner, “What If I” starts softly and builds into a climactic, emotionally charged crescendo. Dwelling in a space of melancholic longing, Nicholson sings about fearing a loss that hasn’t quite happened yet – but could very well happen, if she lets it. Her heavy heart aches palpably through a deeply emotive chorus:

What if I lose sight of you
What if I lose sight of wherever you are
Ahh, ahh, ahh
What if I lose sight of you
What if I lose sight of wherever you are

She could be singing about loved ones drifting apart – and that’s certainly what it sounds like, upon first listen – but as she explains, the song was inspired by her love of making music.

Jodie Nicholson © Ellen Dixon
Jodie Nicholson © Ellen Dixon

“I wrote it with my wonderful friend, Harri Endersby-Marsh, who I’ve felt very lucky to call a bandmate over the last couple of years,” Nicholson tells Atwood Magazine. “From the outside, you could say ‘What If I’ is about falling out with someone, ruminating on things you maybe did or said and being scared of pushing them away. For me, when Harri and I wrote it, I remember thinking that I didn’t want to lose sight of why I love making music and what made me want to start releasing music in the first place. At the time, I was feeling quite under pressure to write and make good music, ironically for this record, and all the far-ahead planning that comes with being an artist and creating an album was really getting to me. Writing ‘What If I’ together felt like a remedy to all that.”

“We started with a lush, dark synth that acts as the bed of the whole track and got the structure down pretty quickly, including the key change which is very subtle, but adds this glorious, much-needed lift at the end. Our original demo had a really cool, more rhythmic guitar throughout, which I really struggled to re-record, so I ended up stripping it back to a more relaxed strum and it naturally gave the track more room to grow/build. I took the demo we made, added some proper 80s-feeling, programmed drums (recreated on an actual kit by Francesca Knowles for the final recording, which was SO magical), a load of synths and sent it to Harri one eve as a surprise. From there, the track stayed pretty true to the demo with a few additional electric guitar layers and synth flourishes.”

Got carried away
I daren’t look up this time
It’s a dead-end maze
Always keeping me up late
Circle round my head
Am I thinking straight, racing to the end?

“The ending is my favourite section,” Nicholson shares. “Production-wise, I was aiming for a real ‘Stranger Things,’ nostalgic ’80s, The War On Drugs kind of moment. Whilst we were writing it, I asked Harri if she’d be up for doing some whispers through a guitar pedal plug-in I love that’s got an amazing tremolo/delay effect on it. It’s so simple, but her vocal there adds so much movement and texture, and cuts through what’s really quite a crowded section. It’s my favourite element in the whole track.”

What if I lose sight of you
What if I lose sight of wherever you are
What if I lose sight of you
What if I lose sight of wherever you are
Jodie Nicholson © Ellen Dixon
Jodie Nicholson © Ellen Dixon

From its opening whisper to its final, lush roar – and all the way back down to a whisper again, “What If I” leaves listeners in a state of cathartic wonderment. The wave of pain has passed, but not forever. The storm is gone for now, but it could come back to engulf us yet again; we will without a doubt be consumed by our own inescapable thoughts and fears once more. How do hold onto our present selves, and the passions we hold so dear? How do we not lose our love for the things – be they people, or art, or activities – that sustain us, inspire us, and give us light?

I don’t have the answer to that question, nor does Jodie Nicholson. What she does have, however, is a song that asks the right question and turns it into a mantra, so that we never forget – and if we ever do stray, rest assured: We won’t stray far. Keep your loves (living and otherwise) close, and get lost in the hypothetical ache of “What If I,” now streaming exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

Jodie Nicholson’s Safe Hands is out May 10, 2024.

What if I lose sight of you…
What if I lose sight of you…
What if I lose sight of wherever you are

— —

:: stream/purchase What If I here ::
:: connect with Jodie Nicholson here ::
Stream: “What If I” – Jodie Nicholson



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Safe Hands - Jodie Nicholson

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? © Ellen Dixon

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