Album Review: Nadine Shah – Love Your Dum and Mad

nadine-shah-love-your-dum-and-madThere is a terror and a tenderness to the wildly forlorn, hauntingly seductive sound to London-based artist Nadine Shah’s songs, which are given full berth in her debut album Love Your Dum and Mad.  Born to Pakistani heritage, Shah’s voice is a captivating thrall of mysterious near-eastern smokiness that, imbued with an enviable mixture of melancholy and malice, always hovers just below a haunting wail. Her music moves with ghost-like serenity through an array of plaintive songs, and unto its many tales of woe delivers a curious and wholly inescapable mysticism.

“Aching Bones” does not trouble itself much in evoking its title; the steady strike of Persian instrumentals join with a murderous bass to lead a cinematic march into darkness. It is not long before that potent voice, extracted from some heavenly hollow, descends with its mellifluous haunt to drown the song in its timeless grief. “To Be A Young Man” strides with some brighter acoustics but is reigned in by the steady sorrow of the vocals before being swept up by distorted rumbles and heightened wails.  Oriental enchantment plays on the ears in the “The Devil” with its foreign whines, Arabic beats, and incessant whips, while such instrumentals are downplayed for the lovely lethargy of “Floating” and “Used It All.”

While no track lacks in style or beauty, the heavier guitar work in the early songs do compete somewhat with Shah’s lingering croons, especially in the fast-paced “Runaway.” The latter half of the album, generally characterized by the presence of a darkly plunking parlor piano, functions better in complimenting Shah’s immersive vocals. As such, “Dreary Town” is probably the most melodic work of the album, and feels like a strange ride on an abandoned carousel. Meanwhile the exciting melancholy of “Filthy Games” promises murder and mystery, romance and heartbreak, and the ruminative ballad of “Winter Reigns” is wistfully pleasant, until an auditory madness that needs to be heard to be believed overtakes it. Everything comes together with a peculiar and memorable power, like listening to some requiem for lost spirits that is finally shedding its soulful coil.

About author
Christopher Witte is a writer living in Los Angeles, CA, afflicted with an unhealthy obsession for independent genres of music.   Follow: @WittePopPress

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