With two critically acclaimed EPs firmly under her belt, Nadine Shah has revealed the details of her debut full length album. Recorded with and produced by Ben Hillier, (Blur, Depeche Mode, The Horrors), Love Your Dum and Mad will be released through Apollo Records on 22 July 2013.
Having set the tone and incredible pace over the past 12 months with 'Dreary Town' and 'Aching Bones', Love Your Dum and Mad not only continues to mark Nadine as an emerging talent but offers a complete, beautifully formed artistic statement. Of Norwegian and Pakistani ancestry and hailing from the north east town of Whitburn, this young London based artist's compositions lean towards the dramatic, with all eleven tracks finding themselves imbued with an understated unease, a deep personal connection to their author and a real triumphant streak beneath the darker hued material.
The first song Nadine wrote, 'Dreary Town', with its plummeting melodies and anguished vocals, is the most personal of all and the track that convinced Ben Hillier to come on board at a very early stage. It soon became apparent that the two understood each other creatively and wanted to produce a record that wasn't purely about showcasing Nadine's unique vocals but was also completely immersive sonically. "It was nerve wracking initially, working with someone who had made many of the albums I loved and adored growing up" she admits, "but we got on immediately and began writing together. I consider what we have made together to be a completely collaborative project. I would bring in these shoddy garageband recordings into the studio, just my vocal and a simple piano line and Ben would add touches that gave the songs completely new characters. He really made them come to life."
They then took the songs and recorded them in her father's Curtain Superstore in the Blaydon district of Tyne & Wear.
Musically, she is reminiscent of early Bad Seeds material and the bruised honesty of a sheen-less Broken English by Marianne Faithful. Vocally, Nadine counts her inspirations as Nina Simone and Maria Callas by way of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston (but she does confess to learning that a word with two syllables does not need ten, unlike her diva mentors), while lyrically her classic tales of love and loss find their roots in personal experiences, filtered through abstracts of William Hogarth, who "depicted scenes of debauchery and poverty like no other" and "feisty lady" Frida Kahlo. Nadine has taken these influences and has created a work which blends her rich and husky classic jazz streak with fantastical, organic instrumentation and the twisted industrial sounds of modern life.
Along the way we dip into a brave take on adultery in 'Runaway' ("I really admire mothers, I think they are strong birds and complex characters. I write from a mother's perspective a lot. I didn't want her to sound defeated in this song, so instead she says "run away to your whore, I've the right to half this house I'm fine") and the moral ambiguity of 'Filthy Game' which is based on a short story by Italo Calvino called 'Mr Palomar'. 'The Devil', which Nadine rather brilliantly sees as a kind of baton passed on from like-minded artists "a lot of my favourite artists have written songs called "the devil".. It'd have been rude of me not to!" Elsewhere, album highlight 'All I Want' has a simple piano motif that nestles next to the supreme vocals and wonderfully romantic sentiment of lyrics "Darling, I'll hold your cigarette, whilst you tie your shoes/ Darling, hold my cigarette, whilst I sing the blues/ With you it's a pleasure to speak and be heard/ But we could just sit in cafes and not say a word".
Unafraid of roiling in life's choppier waters, Nadine's album is word play on "love your mum and dad" and is named after the title of a painting by Nadine's friend Matthew Stephens-Scott who tragically passed away a few years ago. "It seemed appropriate to call the album this" she explains "as not only are a few of the songs about him, but others also suffering from mental health related issues." It is in the noticeably sparser, more electronically experimental 'Floating' that Nadine says the lyrical theme of the album is best portrayed "I wanted to write something to show the absurdities present in existing social stigmas towards those suffering from mental health related issues. People shouldn't be embarrassed. It should be something we can talk about as openly as any other health problem. I wanted to write something similar to that of Philip Larkin's poem "Days".
Opening track 'Aching Bones', with its insistent clanging rhythm and sparse tinkering keys, sets an eerie, slightly menacing tone for the album whilst immediate successor 'To Be A Young Man's acoustic guitar hooks seem to offer comfort in borrowed nostalgia. "I wrote this after chatting to a guy in a pub. The pub where I wrote most of the songs on this album. He was probably in his late 60s, I never got his name. We were both sat by ourselves at the bar and just started speaking. I remember he said during our conversation "sometimes I forget that i'm not a young man, then I catch my reflection". I can't emphasise enough that he was NOT a dirty old man chatting up a young girl. He just told me stories of his glory days, the freedom he felt in youth. After many an anecdote he paused, looked back at me and said "oh, to be a young man again!"
The last song on the album 'Winter Reigns' sees an acceptance come into play when Nadine explains further about said public house "I wanted this to almost be a song of resolution. It's where I would go to drink and talk about whatever troubles I was going through. What I love about the place is how warm and welcoming everyone was (and still is), their stories and their wisdom."
So we invite you to pull up a stool and share in that warm conversation and the redemptive tales of Nadine Shah as they are set to run and run in 2013.
"Every boy and girl in this place you trust/ we accept you one of us"
1. Aching Bones
2. To Be A Young Man
4. The Devil
6. All I Want
7. Used It All
8. Dreary Town
10. Filthy Game
11. Winter Reigns
Fri 4 May London Bull & Gate
Fri 17 May Brighton The Great Escape festival
Sat 18 May Brighton The Great Escape festival
Tue 21 May Leicester The Musician
Wed 29 May London The Lexington (supporting Cloud Boat)