Nadine Shah – Filthy Underneath

Honesty appears to be at the heart of this record.

Label: EMI North
Released: 23rd February 2024

Three, almost four years is a long time for anyone, especially when the world throws everything that could possibly go wrong at you. Nadine Shah gives listeners a rundown of sorts on ‘Filthy Underneath’.

The standout of Shah’s work has always been the huge instrumental arrangements, and ‘Filthy Underneath’ certainly does not lack them. ‘Even Light’ opens the album with the ghoulish chimes of a synth machine. ‘Topless Mother’ is every bit as groovy as it is bizarre as it details Shah’s experience with a counsellor who would burst into tears if she wasn’t moving forward with a patient. It’s these kinds of quirks that set Shah apart from her cohort. 

Naturally, like any album that seeks to be transparent about the ups and downs of life, there are some difficult moments, ones that are handled with extreme care. ‘French Exit’ is incredibly stark; there’s no over-the-top instrumentation to distract from the content of the lyrics – listeners are confronted with the truth of the situation the singer faced as she maps out a night in 2022 in which she tried to take her own life. 

Honesty appears to be at the heart of this record, as does relatability in some ways. ‘Sad Lads Anonymous’ is more spoken word poetry than a song as she pours over her inability to be comfortable in whatever environment she’s in, including her own after-shows. She closes the gap between artist and consumer; status doesn’t matter when it comes down to anxiety. 

The perfect measure of vulnerability and comedy, ‘Filthy Underneath’ is a testament to the idea that even when life crosses into rocky terrain, you can come out of the other side.

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