Born to Norwegian-English mother and a Pakistani immigrant father, Nadine Shah is a Whitburn, South Tyneside, UK-born, South Shields, UK-based singer/songwriter and pianist, who received attention nationally and elsewhere with her Ben Hillier-produced debut effort, Love Your Dum and Mad, an effort largely inspired by the suicides of two very close friends of hers; in fact, her debut album focuses on the social stigmas towards those suffering from mental health illnesses with an unvarnished candor and empathy. Shah continued her collaboration with co-writer and producer Hillier, with her sophomore album, 2015’s Fast Food, an album that focuses on the ecstasy and agony of short, passionate relationships.
However, while Shah’s third and soon-to-be released album Holiday Destination seems directly influenced by the growing sense of uncertainty, instability, political chaos, polarization, racism and xenophobia of the past year, as the daughter of a Pakistani emigrant, the headlines of the past 12-18 months have played a significant part of her life, and as a result the material may arguably be the most politically charged she’s released to date, as the material thematically touches on the plight of Syrian refuges — in particular, the desperate refugees, who landed on the European and shores, only to discover unmitigated cruelty; her own experiences as a Pakistani woman in the world, and of course much more. In fact, album title track “Holiday Destination” as Shah explains is press notes is “a response to this really harrowing news piece about migrants and refugees arriving on the shores of Kos in Greece by the thousands. There were some holidaymakers being interviewed, and they were talking about how the situation was ruining their holiday. Despite their total and complete lack of empathy, the thing which shocked me the most was their bold and unashamed stance of saying such things on national television. This is what we’re seeing across the globe: people proudly expressing this hate-fueled rhetoric. It’s like wow — some people really don’t care, and they’ll happily talk about how they don’t care. I just don’t get it.” And as a result, the song’s narrator questions the humanity and decency of the vacationers, who can’t seem to see anything beyond their own pleasure and gratification; but along with that, it leaves a larger, more troubling question for the listener — just whose best interest are at the heart of those in power? And is there a point where humanity trumps profit?
Shah’s latest single should continue to remind you that music is indeed a powerful weapon, as she pairs a fiery outrage with layers of jangling guitars and a motorik-like groove and atmospheric synths in a song that manages to nod at Berlin trilogy-era Bowie and PJ Harvey simultaneously.
Directed by Christian Stephen and produced by Nick Rosier, the recently released video for “Holiday Destination” is shot in a lush and cinematic black and white and follows a trench coat wearing Shah through the streets and alleyways of a decidedly British town, passing by oblivious revelers, street buskers and scenes of every day life.