Nadine Shah – Love Your Dum and Mad
Nadine Shah walks into the aspiring-artist back-story music store. “I’d like the one”, she says, “where the person I think for years is my sister is actually my mother and the person I think is my mother is actually my grandmother”. “Sorry”, she’s told, “Eric Clapton took that one ages ago”. “Hmm”, she says. “Well, how about the one where I only find out who my real father is when I’m 11 and it turns out to be the cook.” “Gone. Rumer snapped that one up”. “OK”, she says, “How about the one where I grow up in the north-east of England with a Norwegian mother and a Pakistani father who loves to sing Urdu ghazals around the house”. “Congratulations. You’re in luck”. The great thing about the aspiring-artist back-story music store is that all the back stories are true and Nadine Shah has a good one. Does her background make any difference to the music? Not obviously. She seems to be charting her own musical course. And it’s an interesting one. There’s a unity to the sound across the album. It’s always cold, serious, and very intense. But the journey is unpredictable. The opener, ‘The Aching’, sets the stage for what could easily be 45 minutes of industrial gloom. The next two tracks, ‘To Be A Young Man’ and ‘Runaway’, are equally dark, threatening and guitar-heavy. ‘The Devil’ is more melodic, but still brooding and guitar-led. Then suddenly things get quieter. Much quieter. ‘Floating’ picks up the melody from ‘The Devil’, but now the intensity is expressed more in the voice than any musical Sturm und Drang. And thereafter the songs are mainly piano-led. They’re sparse, but not empty. They’re given the room to ebb and flow in a way that the early tracks weren’t allowed to. By the time the last track ends with its tinkling piano notes, the musical transformation is complete. The early songs sound like the work of an angry young artist. The later ones like the work of someone already much more mature. And in that regard, Nadine Shah, with her wonderful aspiring-artist back story behind her, has time on her side.