For most of us, 2016 was a tumultuous and ugly year – one steeped in political chaos and an air of uncertainty. For Nadine Shah, these headlines had been a big part of her life for years, and Holiday Destination – her brilliant and compelling third album – sees her stepping out of the shadow of the complicated relationships she examined on her second album Fast Food and taking account of the world at large. On "Out the Way" – a terrific lead single that is as biting and scathing in equal measure as any of her output – Shah grapples with the fact that as a second-generation immigrant, her identity is constantly brought into question, the song appropriately ricocheting with burning intensity, bubbling over the bed of Pete Wareham‘s taut, jagged saxophone as she contemplates the rise of global nationalism.
Elsewhere Shah pulls no punches, exploring equally pertinent, difficult topics with similar intelligence and personality; from global issues such as the Calais refugee crisis and the Syrian civil war, to the more personal problems of inner turmoil surrounding the pressure of social conforming, the state of our mental health and simply encouraging others to have empathy. However, despite its themes, Holiday Destination is anything but a difficult listen. From the off it immediately becomes apparent that Shah and collaborator, co-writer and producer Ben Hillier's knack for sharp hooks and rhythms have only progressed further.
Whereas some artists may stumble in putting their agenda across, Nadine Shah does not falter – whether it's the confidence exuded in the one-two punch of "2016" and "Out the Way," or the emotional and heartfelt vocal turns on "Mother Fighter" and "Jolly Sailor," this is Nadine using her exceptional voice to put her inner workings in perspective and the world's problems on trial in one of 2017's most crucial albums.