Album of the week: Fast Food by Nadine Shah - servings of love and loss
When, after only one album, your name is being mentioned alongside the darkly wondrous P.J. Harvey and the Gothic blues post-punk poet Nick Cave, you surely know you're doing something right.
It's high praise indeed for former jazz singer Nadine Shah, whose Love Your Dum and Mad debut was a dense and haunting piano-laden lament on the misery of love. An album of such beautiful darkness, it was largely inspired by two of her ex-boyfriends who took their own lives during its formation.
Focusing this time on her past relationships, the primarily guitar-driven Fast Food is as equally personal and reflective as her dramatic debut. Although it begins with a slightly more upbeat stomp of its title track, by the time Shah's rich, velvety voice drifts across the wailing guitar and brooding bass of lead single Fool, it's quite clear the Northumbrian songstress isn't shying away from such fine company. Heck, the wonderfully spiteful lyrics even name-check Sir Nick while the song's accompanying video is obviously a loving homage to the Australian musician's Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow.
Created once again with her trusted collaborator, Depeche Mode/Blur producer Ben Hillier, each of the 10 tracks here, soulful and tender poems about love and loss, crackle with an underlying sombre power. On the chorus of Divided, one of the album's many highlights, Shah soars over a warm acoustic riff: "I didn't ask you to need me/ I never begged you, 'please stay'." Spellbinding and full of sadness, this is so much more palatable than fast food. Shah has served up a Michelin-star platter of stylish, melancholic gothic pop. I think I'm in love.