No surprise, Shah gets heavy. Big surprise, the music outshines her vocals.1965 Records, 2017
6.2 / 10
Nadine Shah‘s music has always had a serious tone to it. Heck, describing her music as anything other than “heavy” and “dark” can be difficult. And it’s going to be just as hard for her third album. This time, the English musician is addressing the global political climate on Holiday Destination. Brexit, Trump, and the Syrian civil war all serve as inspirations behind some of the songs. Shah even touches on things more internal like mental health and people needing to have more empathy.
It was actually a lack of empathy that inspires the album’s title track. There’s a grinding urgency to the song, which addresses immigrants arriving in Greece, but people on vacation reacting in disdain for it saying that it was “ruining their holiday.” Musically, the song presents Nadine Shah in the same light as St. Vincent. The instrumentation is diverse and somewhat avant garde. It rolls with a bass thumping beat and saxophone blurts here and there.
Shah also channels PJ Harvey, which was also noticeable on her last album, Fast Food. Album opener “Place Like This” doesn’t find the strong singer using her far-stretching vocals to flesh out the song. Rather, she attempts something more menacing and weird. However, it kind of hurts her in making the music stand out as the more interesting aspect of the song. She does break out her power vocals later in the album, but some of those songs are lackluster in comparison to Holiday Destination‘s early half.
The best song of this section belongs to “Out The Way”. Here, Shah responds to the hate crimes following the Brexit referendum. A brooding saxophone helps intensify Shah’s chorus, “You say ‘out the way!’/ ‘Out the way!’/ ‘Out!'” Here, the message feels as important as Shah intends it to be. Other songs suffer from their somewhat improvisational messiness not gelling with Shah’s normally strong performances. This time they appear on holiday.