Album Review

Nadia Reid's Preservation

Nadia Reid - Preservation

A lot belies the fresh water voice of Nadia Reid. Pristine enough to carry sweetness, warm and rich enough for comfort. And yet...

“There were two little words that I used

One was fuck, the other was you.”

The final “you” is honeyed, it drips from the line. The “fuck” is calm, unhurried, shared between two notes.  The song is "Reach My Destination" from her new album Preservation.

The delivery of these lines is intriguing. There is a relaxed dignity, an attractive, smoothed tenor. There is no wrath here; no kick-back or cheek. Just a long hard look. She’s gone full circle, it’s done. It’s just her and the ‘fuck you.’

She writes of her new album that “Preservation is about the point I started to love myself again.  It is about strength, observation, and sobriety. It’s about when I could see the future again.”

Her first album, 2015’s Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs was written from the guts; smarting through the bone-raw stages of getting over ‘it’. The album was cerebral and felt mature, and that’s a point inconsistent with the fact that she was in her mid-twenties when it was released. Indeed some of the songs had apparently been written in her teens.  That may account somewhat for the fact that the album was unrelenting. The darkness was pounding. It was also quiet evidence that Reid had been born at the age of 87. Her growing base of listeners knows she has the depth and world weariness of a 60+ year old, however, the wider world believes she is a young artist just starting out on her journey. Don’t be fooled.

Preservation has more light than her previous album. Reid has been travelling, experiencing, writing and performing in the past year or so and her world has expanded. The subject matter covers familiar ground – the lost loves, the let-downs, the hurt. But Preservation is not as searing. It’s talking from the kind of future that previous album Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs was too hurt to contemplate. She isn’t aching at what she remembers, she’s looking at it all very differently now.

Take "Richard" for example. Apparently the real name of an ex-boyfriend, Richard we are told “loved the sound of his own voice in the kitchen by the mirror.” There’s a catching southern rock guitar prominent through the track, a heartbeat steady on the drums. "Taking back the hand that is mine" she sings later in the song. Loving herself again.

Reid’s voice is streaming front of house on "Ain’t Got You," with pedal steel and high sweet harmonies on the chorus washing a country feel right through the song, while guitar chimes parallel through the hard time. “I am a good woman” sings Reid, “but I ain’t got you.”

It’s hard to explain the vague sense of This Mortal Coil's "Song To The Siren" on title track "Preservation."  The voices are different of course, they’re oceans apart. It is more the feeling that Reid’s voice at certain moments goes beyond vocal and verges on becoming another instrument. The wood warm clear tones, and the hidden breaths. The accompanying guitar and occasional pull of pedal steel creates the backdrop. “I know I will find the one to hold on to” she sings.  The future is visible.  “Preservation is about the point I started to love myself again” Reid said about the album.  “It is about strength, observation, and sobriety. It’s about when I could see the future again.”  And as the man said – the future starts today.

First posted on State.ie