Review: Nadine Shah – Love Your Dum and Mad
Published on July 24th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Having fallen in love with Nadine Shah’s “To Be a Young Man” single the other week, we expected much from her superbly titled debut album Love Your Dum and Mad.
Not enough spoonerisms in popular music, we say.
Anyway, Love Your Dum and Mad for the most part lives up to our expectations, Shah clearly understanding that wallowing, Lana-esque nostalgia tells you much more about your life if it’s invested with a spot of humour too.
That’s not to say that it’s a barrel of laughs – far from it – but it all feels so much easier to identify and empathise with when the gloom is punctuated by lines like “I was once a handsome brute”.
Why should that be? Who knows, it just is. It’s why the majority of us spend so much of our lives messing about trying to make each other laugh. It’s the human condition, or the endearing quality of gallows humour.
This is only part of what makes Love Your Dum and Mad so beguiling; Ben Hillier’s lovely, ‘full’-sounding production is another, ditto Shah’s soaring ‘dark siren’ vocals.
Then there’s the narrative, for which Shah demonstrates a striking flair on “Runaway”, a stark address of an unfaithful husband, while the consistency of mood is justified by the sheer emotional steeliness of it all.
She’s got fire in her belly, that’s for damn sure.
It’s “All I Want”, arriving halfway through the album, that really steals the show here: a sudden switch from a traditional band setup into a combination of dolorous piano and sparse, gloopy synth, it boxes your nose with the wonderfully effective lines “I’ll hold your cigarette while you tie your shoes / And I’ll hold my cigarette while I sing the blues” then takes flight into something of real beauty.
“All I Want” is a stunning centrepiece, one of those tracks that seems to make time stand still and invests with poignancy anything you happen to be watching or looking at while you’re listening to it.
If there’s a fault to pick with Love Your Dum and Mad, it’s that “All I Want” casts such a mighty shadow on its surroundings as to make you pine for more of it.
The closing suite of tracks – including a haunting, traditional Gaelic folk style vocal on “Filthy Game” – are enshrouded in a gentle maelstrom of minor-key-dom that is certainly affecting but feels like a bit of a comedown.
That’s a perfectly legitimate way of structuring an album but all Rocksucker wants at that point is more of what “All I Want” has to offer.
Love Your Dum and Mad is without doubt one of the most accomplished debut albums you’ll hear this year; it sounds like an exorcism for Shah, a unified collection of songs that would have weighed heavily on her had she not spilled their guts all over record.
Most tantalising of all, though, is the notion of what’s to come next. We suggest you stick around to find out.
Love Your Dum and Mad is out now on Apollo Records.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!