Album: Love Your Dum and Mad
Singer: Nadine Shah
Music: Apollo Records
Price: £10.28 (Amazon)
The first we heard UK artiste Nadine Shah was amid loud metallic clanging, as the piano plunged into an eerie octave drill against drum rolls. Her voice soared amid all that din in a sort of sweet-gothic fashion. This was Aching Bones which Shah released last year as an EP.
Her debut album, curiously named Love Your Dum and Mad, is no less impressive, and reflects the half-Norwegian, half-Pakistani singer’s varied influences — from the “brutal honesty” of Frida Kahlo to the androgynous jazz of Nina Simone, and the pathos of ghazals which she imbibed from her Pakistani father.
Opening with Aching Bones, the 11-track album follows through with familiar tones of melancholia, restrained by Shah’s operatic vocals and raw angst. To be a young man is a soft rock composition set against the singer’s ghoulish vocals that evoke an elderly man’s desire to be young again. The melancholic Runaway is rife with aggressive riffs and ominous beats. In her soaring voice, Shah wails defiantly of an adulterous relationship, “Run away to your w****…I’m fine”. Next up, The devil utilises the grunge clinks and clangs in slow, seductive halts.
Floating is a pleasant change of flavour. Shah’s subtle vocals, the gentle bass and brushes of drums, and eccentric electrics create a smoky atmosphere of psychedelic jazz of 20th century America.
Dreary town, triggered by the death of one of her friends, is awash with sentimental piano runs. Her operatic voice pays homage to a friend she loved and witnessed falling apart when she sings, “I’m not going to follow you to the ground.”
With a fairytale-like beginning, she ends the album with the cheerful (read therapeutic) piano solo, with Winter reigns, in which one can almost feel the winter descend, even as Shah is safely tucked inside a bar. With a bit of humour, she croons, “You won’t see me when it’s cold outside. I’m at the bar keeping warm.”
Love Your Dum and Mad is an unusual debut; it doesn’t feel like a maiden effort, but a result of a long, seething process. The instrumentations merge perfectly with raw industrial sounds (some songs were recorded in a textile warehouse). The austerity applies to the lyrics as well. A bit too intense, Love your Dum and Mad is a raging start — menacingly dark and personal.