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Nadine Shah - Filthy Underneath (Album Review)

Wednesday, 28 February 2024 Written by Graeme Marsh

Photo: Tim Topple

Anyone attending recent Depeche Mode shows would have been treated, however briefly, to a bewitching support slot from Nadine Shah. In her grasp she held a clutch of new songs from ‘Filthy Underneath’, an album that encompasses so much about what makes the Tyneside artist so deeply admired and loved.

Crafted following a traumatic period that encompassed the death of her mother, the end of her marriage, addiction, and rehab, this is a bold, stunning, return after 2020’s equally arresting ‘Kitchen Sink’. 

The lead single Topless Mother is as quirky and addictive as any of Shah’s best work. It tells of a dysfunctional relationship with her counsellor, weaving its words around a Burundi beat recalling Adam and the Ants.

Drums, provided here by regular producer Ben Hillier, are in fact at the forefront of the record, forming the foundation of much of the writing.

Another recent live favourite, the excellent Greatest Dancer, features a similar percussive pattern alongside a mesmerising synth hook and the theme continues into the subtle stunner See My Girl, where Shah’s mother’s musical influence gets a nod. Keeping Score slows things down theatrically as she tells of how women are consistently subjected to abuse by men, while the spoken word Sad Lads Anonymous delves into her own mental health with startling self-awareness.

Deeply personal throughout, ‘Filthy Underneath’ reveals much about Shah’s recent life. The compelling closer French Exit tackles an instance in 2022 when she came close to taking her own life, and her astonishing ability to relay her experiences marks a triumphant turnaround.

Most of all, though, it is Twenty Things that stands out. Another mesmerising drum pattern underpins an almost effortlessly brilliant song, telling of Shah’s rehab friendships and people who didn’t make it out the other side. Above all else, ‘Filthy Underneath’ underlines the huge role love has played in the revival of one of our most intriguing and gifted songwriters.

Nadine Shah Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri April 26 2024 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Boiler Shop
Sat April 27 2024 - MANCHESTER New Century Hall
Sun April 28 2024 - GLASGOW SWG3
Wed May 01 2024 - BIRMINGHAM XOYO Birmingham
Thu May 02 2024 - LONDON Heaven
Tue May 07 2024 - DUBLIN Whelan's
Fri November 22 2024 - LONDON O2 Forum Kentish Town

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