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.
Nadine Shah: Kitchen Sink review – razor-sharp observations