With its ghostly clatters and sharp piano notes, opening number ‘Aching Bones’ introduces an unsettling atmosphere to its maker’s debut album.
Hailing from a small village on the northern English coast, Nadine Shah’s haunting vocals are beautifully sinister, reminiscent of Annie Lennox if the Scot shared a few tics with Nina Simone.
With Depeche Mode producer Ben Hillier at the desk, this album matches the powerful voice of Shah with a compositional attitude glimmering with traces of Natasha Khan, and the darkness of The Bad Seeds.
The tenebrous tones of this mysterious music cross over into its lyrical content. ‘Runaway’ finds Shah singing of adultery, while ‘The Devil’ furthers these blackened themes.
Brief relief is found in ‘Floating’, which employs gentle guitars to lift the weight of Shah’s storytelling, providing valuable headspace within which to mull what’s been experienced. However, it doesn’t take long for that gloom to creep back in: “I’m sick to death of floating.”
‘Love Your Dum and Mad’, as its title suggests, makes strong allusions to mental health problems and the social stigmas attached. The piano riff through ‘Filthy Game’ almost manifests the feeling that the listener is going mad.
There is a deep sadness to every song here, Shah’s first studio set one that will either make you sink into a shadowy pool of darkness, or allow you to reflect upon your own sorrows in a melancholy reverie.
Words: Sarah McRuvie
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