Nadine Shah – Fast Food (Album Review)


Hailing from the UK, singer-songwriter Nadine Shah is what some may call a mash-up of Alternative, Gothic, and Folk Rock. Beginning in early 2012, Shah released her debut full-length album Love Your Dum and Mad in 2013 via Apollo Records following two EPs. Now in 2015, she returns with the follow-up album Fast Food, created during a two-month writing session with well-known producer Ben Hillier and recorded at The Pool in London. Since the album’s release in April, Shah has taken her native UK Alternative music scene by storm and is aiming toward North America next.

The album is a story about a woman who went through hell and back in a relationship and finally comes to the realization that she does not need someone else to make her life worth living. Title track, “Fast Food,” kicks off the album as well as the story, is laced with a mellow Pink Floyd feeling. The latest single, “Fool” follows, and here, Shah begins to question the relationship she might have been in. Her sultry voice is backed by a repetitive beat of what sounds like slightly out of tune guitars, but it actually works for the song. “Matador” has slower chord progressions and a strong bass line, and “Divided” follows right after with the same harrowing tempo. “Nothing Left to Do” takes inspiration from Shah’s Pakistani roots, featuring a sitar-like sound throughout the melodic song.

Lead single “Stealing Cars” is probably one of two songs on the album that have a lighter tone, while still keeping with Shah’s brooding nature, making the listener feel the highs and lows of her relationship in one song. The drum line is unique and quick, and although the song’s energy is released gradually, it somehow gets the listener moving. Not that anyone condones the exhilaration of stealing an automobile, but as the lyrics say, “Check your pulse when I speak.” With “Stealing Cars,” Shah will have the audience on the edge of their seats wanting to know the ending to her story.

As the album moves forward, “Washed Up” not only lends to the story, but also maintains the simple chord progressions and strong bass line that Shah is known for. Then there is “The Gin One,” which sounds like she took a page out of Blink-182’s book and then mashed it up with Marina and the Diamonds to create a song that is dark and eerie. Shah’s words and her delivery are seductive and alluring, and one gets the sense she’s only implying what she really means. Next, the listener gets hit with “Big Hands,” which makes one wonder what exactly inspired the threatening song and what hidden meanings might be present in all the other songs leading up to it. Finally, “Living” gives all women a strong sense of empowerment when Shah tells them it is totally cool not to conform, and that choosing a different path is okay — a path that one personally wants to follow, not one that is deemed appropriate by others.

Fast Food is anything but, going a little slower and deeper than Love Your Dum and Mad, and Shah still shows she has what it takes to create a solid track. Subscribing to the idea that less is more, she creates simple melodies that help to give her voice the recognition it deserves. Although the album has an unhurried vibe, it seems to go by so fast that she will leave listeners wanting to hear and know more. Listeners will be mesmerized as they consume the whole forty-two minutes and then disappointed once it’s over because they have nothing left to devour. Unlike actual fast food, however, the listener will not feel guilty for eating the whole meal. With a voice like Florence Welch, soothingly dark lyrics, and slow, deep tempos, Shah delivers an album worth adding to anyone’s collection. Cryptic Rock gives Fast Food 4.5 stars out of 5, simply because we are saving that other half a star for her next album.


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