Nadine Shah: Kitchen Sink review – razor-sharp observations

(Infectious)
The singer-songwriter’s follow-up to Holiday Destination is a slow-burning joy

North-eastern singer-songwriter Nadine Shah won acclaim – and a Mercury prize nomination – for her 2017 album, Holiday Destination, in part because she was one of the few artists to actually attempt to address Europe’s refugee crisis. The follow-up is just as political, but this time the focus is more personal, as she considers what it means to be a thirtysomething woman today: is it “wrong” that at 34 she is neither married nor a mother?

Any fears that this is going to be po-faced navel-gazing are dispelled by the brass-powered opener, Club Cougar, about a relationship with someone “one year younger – call me a cougar”. A seam of such lyrical boldness runs throughout Kitchen Sink, which is offset nicely by the taut post-punk backing, made once again with longtime foil Ben Hillier. Ladies for Babies (Goats for Love) is a case in point, musically as austere as Rid of Me-era PJ Harvey, but blessed with razor-sharp observations (“He wants his lady/ To be a lady/ To care less, be hairless/ All he wants in fairness/ Is a baby”) and a very direct chorus. In that respect, it’s something of an outlier – there’s little else here that is as immediate. Instead, Kitchen Sink is an album that slowly charms its way into your conscience, and is all the more pleasing for that.

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