5 November 2017

Nadine Shah - Holiday Destination

I have no idea why I didn’t end up completing my review of Fast Food by Nadine Shah, I think I only found out about before a blog deadline and had to miss out reviewing it.  This is one of many regrets I have for this blog, as it’s a brilliant album.  One which gets a regular play in ATTIWLTMOWOS tower (I say tower, it is a flat) as it's great album.  Sadly, sometimes you find this out long after the event, and I almost did the same with her latest release, Holiday Destination.  In the last few months, Ms Shah has toured the UK and played in some impressive venues, next year she will be playing the London Roundhouse with support from Beth Orton.  There is a buzz from the lady from Whitburn, it’s hard to ignore when strangers and friends are telling you she is the best thing since slice bread – not that I needed to be told, I just an extra 8 hours a day to do each review.  Released in August 2017 on 1965 Records, Holiday Destination is her third studio album and it is my pleasure to finally review this album.

01 – Place Like This

“Place Like This” starts with the subject of refugees, people who are having to flee their homes and families due to war and require sanctuary, and when they arrive in foreign lands, they are treat like criminals.  It’s asking for people to put themselves in their shoes, to see the world through their eyes.  This is a powerful opening for Holiday Destination, a song that leaves a lasting effect on this listener long after it has finished.

02 – Holiday Destination

Oh my deity, “Holiday Destination” has quite possibly made a late bid for being the song of the year.  It’s a song about how the world is slowly but surely, turning into a fucked-up place with locals being pushed out, holiday makers taking over the world and refugees being found in the water.  Musically, this is a subtle number with a huge bass sound, Ms Shah’s vocals are enthralling on this number.  It’s one of the best songs of 2017, and we are only two numbers into this album.

03 – 2016

“2016” is a double edge song; it looks at the way the body can dictate how you feel, reaching a certain age and you are not in control of your emotions and the inner turmoil that occurs after 30.  It also bemoans the loss of artists in 2016 and the fact we have an orange-tiny handed bastard in the White House.  It looks at both subjects and speaks about them with a refreshing frankness and it sounds like these scenes must be seen to believed.  It's another impressive song, another that stays with you long after it has finished.

04 – Out the Way

“Out the Way” is a dark song, one which deals with discrimination and prejudice, making no bones about some of the things that have been thrown at Ms Shah, and it makes me ashamed to be a human being that this sort of thing is still happens.  It’s a hard-hitting song, musically it is sinister, and it sounds fantastic; but you are not going to get comfort from this song and that is rightly so.  Something are not meant to be comfortable, they are meant to instigate change, and this song is one of those that such instigate such change, what a brilliant number.

05 – Yes Men

“Yes Men” has an obvious message, it's about someone who has surrounded himself with people who do not say anything that this man doesn’t want to here, he surrounds himself with praise and there is a sadness to this song.  There was love in this relationship at some point, but it could not survive without confrontation.  After this message , it also takes a look towards the modern political world, with a large degree of grace and sadness.  This is another stunning number once again from Ms Shah, slow paced and full of drama.

06 – Evil

“Evil” is a chilling song on how what it feels like to be held with contempt, cast as an outsider due to either their skin, the way they speak or the fact they are not from the same side of the street as them.  This song is hard hitting, equal to any song on this album, it does not hide you from the horrors that have been witnessed first-hand and it’s a beautiful song.  It’s a tragedy that this song needs to be created in this day and age, but it's also an expertly crafted tune and it hits you where it hurts each time.

07 – Ordinary

“Ordinary” is song with a subtle anger at its core, the anger behind the song is hidden in the gentle music which is almost happy (a sort of nod to the Smiths there), and where neighbours turn people away from their doors due to differences.  It’s a decent enough tune, without being as hard hitting as other songs on this record.  A rare miss on this quality album.

08 – Relief

“Relief” is a damning condemnation on the sedentary lifestyle that humanity seems to embrace, where we listen to the messages on the TV scene, images in magazines and trolls on the internet which drag us down further into misery.  The music is compelling, the feeling of claustrophobic environment is an ever-present presence on this song and it sounds fantastic, it’s another gem in this treasure trove.

09 – Mother Fighter

“Mother Fighter” is a song about the struggles that all women will face, how they must grow up fast and how they must fight for everything that they own, whilst being the provider for children.  It’s a fierce number, one with a steely determination and it’s played with that same level of passion and drive that has been the hallmark of this record, it’s up there with the title track in terms of passion and performance.

10 – Jolly Sailor

“Jolly Sailor” is a song about drinking songs, tune that are played when you are blowing off steam after a week of work, but everything eventually falls apart towards the end as the drinker passes out.  It holds a different vibe to the rest of the album, it’s a piece of art to reflect your nights that have been wasted with a bottle, the evenings that started with promise and ends with a swirling vortex into the void of sleep.  Sadly, I can identify with this song (not so much now, age gives you a sense of perspective), but this is a brilliant piece of music to end the album.

When you think of Nadine Shah, you cannot think of her in terms of this pop-star or this current band.  You need to look towards artists like PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell when looking for reference points, for people who are equal in stature, as well as male contemporaries such as Tom Waits, Nick Cave and other people who have forged their own paths throughout the years.  Her voice is uniquely Northern, you cannot mistake the accent to her singing and for me, it sounds like home (mainly because she was born just south of where I live).  The music behind the vocals is just as important, supporting her visions with a beautiful performances that never swamps Nadine singing, these perfomances showcasing her message and making sure we know what is important.  She is not afraid to speak her mind; no subject matter is out of bounds and she is willing to be a voice for the down trodden and oppressed people who are shunted from door to door.  This is a brave record, a unique one as well and my joint favourite political statement of the year with Maximo Park’s Rise to Exist.  It's just shy of a perfect record, but this is still going to be high in my end of year chart.  In years to come, Holiday Destination will be looked at as the album that launched Nadine Shah's career to bigger heights. 

9.5 out of ten – Almost perfect, almost….

Top track – Holiday Destination

You can purchase Holiday Destination on Amazon here.

You can visit the Nadine Shah website here.

You can follow the activities of Nadine Shah on Facebook.

You can stream Holiday Destination on Spotify here.

You can stream Holiday Destination on Deezer here.

You can stream Holiday Destination on Tidal here.

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