On her fifth album, 'Filthy Underneath', Nadine Shah finds strength and solace in experimentation

  • 2 min read

On her fifth album, 'Filthy Underneath', Nadine Shah skillfully navigates the rough terrain of her last few years, grappling with the loss of her mother, substance abuse, a suicide attempt, recovery, and the end of her marriage. Each of these topics could easily overwhelm both listener and artist, yet Shah's mastery of storytelling renders her songs more confidential than confessional. With incisive observational skills, she turns the lens on herself, displaying a willingness to be cutting, critical, and humorous as she explores her experiences.

Shah's self-awareness regarding the weight of her material is evident in her nuanced delivery. Throughout 'Filthy Underneath' she experiments with her vocals, exhibiting a newfound abandon in her delivery on tracks like 'Topless Mother' and reaching for the heights of her range on 'Greatest Dancer'. Her voice, paired against transcendent synths and propelled by damning drums, fully captures the personal experiences that the album delves into.

Armed with a strong sense of rhythm, 'Filthy Underneath' hits with an uneasy charm, delivering a percussive pop sound that is catchy, reflective, and at times, perfectly vulnerable. Some of the songs are unexpectedly catchy, and yet balanced by subversive, slow grooves and Shah's charismatic vocal style as she recounts ferrying her terminally ill mother to hospital appointments with a resigned ease. Despite the sometimes detached nature of her lyrics, every song is deeply emotional, colliding infectious synth sounds with wry humour, and a dark, yet captivating footing.

Above all, the album is a brave, honest, and unashamed, with Shah encapsulating the album's tone perfectly in a spoken word monologue, "The band left hours ago, according to the work experience kid that I’m currently telling all my deepest darkest secrets to in a toilet cubicle”. Through a period of recovery, Shah has emerged with the best work of her career, and done so in a deeply human, and deeply effective way.

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