Nadine Shah Brings Feminine Strength on “Runaway”

We posted Nadine Shah back in April as a female artist you should know, and she’s been taking huge strides since then, not just as an artist but specifically as one voicing the feminine perspective on all sorts of things in music. Shah released her debut album Love Your Dum and Mad just a few weeks ago (on July 21) and has been steadily piquing interest due to her inventive voice and quietly compelling music.

Her distinctly multicultural heritage is of the ilk that’s beginning to feel not that unusual—her mom is Norwegian, her dad is Pakistani, and they raised her in rural England. This kind of upbringing seems to give an artist remarkable room to produce sounds and music that feels unique. On her new album, Shah is blending sounds and sources of inspiration that stem from a place of cultural originality.

Perhaps it’s this blending of traditions that allows her to speak openly on somewhat taboo subjects. Stretching her voice like a pregnant belly on “Runaway” Shah speaks of the melancholy and despair that abandonment and marital betrayal bring. Over thick, stringent guitars and urgent, booming drums her voice flies unadorned and steady depicting the sorrow. Sadly, this track could be an anthem for far too many women and girls—but it’s nice to hear a take on break up and betrayal that’s not Taylor Swift’s “fuck you bye I have everything anyway” but acknowledges the pain without losing strength.

On her other recently released track, “To Be a Young Man,” Shah actually inhabits the headspace of a failed man. The track mulls over the passing of time—the regret of losing your life in a series of work shifts—and it yearns for youth. What’s so interesting is that she chooses to speak of these things, which could be gender neutral, by specifically taking on the male voice. It’s fascinating that she assumes such polarized perspectives and pulls them off with equal grace. Shah sets herself apart from her peers through sheer vision.

Love Your Dum and Mad is out now via Apollo Records. Buy it here.

(SPIN)