Nadine Shah: “Holiday Destination” Album Review

Written By: Filip Teovanovic


Originality: (3.0 / 5)
Vocals/Flow: (3.0 / 5)
Lyrics: (4.0 / 5)
Production: (3.0 / 5)
Average: (3.3 / 5)

On her first two albums, Nadine Shah was concetrating on themes of mental health and mental illness. If DSM-IV was music, that is how it would sound. Her debut Love Your Dum and Mad was particularly speaking about inner battles who struggle with psychological problems have to go through on a daily basis. She also acknowledged the people who are vicariously going through the same torment by being empathetic to those who are clinically distressed. The album was a reflection of unfortunate events when her three friends committed suicide and the experience. Nadine offered her heart on the sleeve and confessed to her listeners how she experienced their departure from this world. On her second effort, Fast Food, discourse about mental health had even more sinister and determined tone, woven in her tenacity to show nerve, resistance and power.

Holiday Destination is a third album of this Norweigan-Pakistani artist, and it represents step further into the obscure and heavy topics of modern world. This time, Nadine is politically engaged and focused on immigrant crisis, xenophobia and lack of empathy. Inspired by an article about tourists whose vacation was ruined by immigrants, singer felt she needed to express her attitude regarding immigrant crisis and named her record Holiday Vacation with aim to cover two perspectives. First one is a perspective of those who are searching for home away from home, while the second perspective belongs to people who deliberately leave their home for a certain period of time to enjoy lush vacations and whose vacations become “ruined” by immigrants. According to Nadine, she couldn’t write about anything else, so this record was completely intrisically motivated.

Although a gesture to write about these themes and use your art to point out what’s wrong in society is noble and brave, Holiday Vacation is musically a flop when compared to her first two studio materials. Obvious emotional involment hindered creative distance that is crucial for better expression of your pulsions. Maybe the problem is that she perceived her message more important than the music. I find Fast Food more coherent and more attractive release. Holiday Vacation has less variety, and does not offer even one song that could be a potential hit. Most of the songs pass you by in monotony. Even her signature post-punk sound is replaced with pop and synth arrangements. For some reason, Nadine’s dark and massive vocal is softened here and it sounds less seductive than ever before. Still, that is a plausible move considering the concept of the whole album.

Singles “Yes Men” and “Holiday Destination” are chosen due to their political moment, and they clearly articulate the attitude Nadine wants to send out in the world. “Out The Way” and “Evil” are most accomplished in the context of sonic attractiveness, while “Mother Figure” stands as the most touching number on the record. Closing track “Jolly Sailor” is a hidden diamond that reminds us of Nadine we fell in love with.

Holiday Destination is valuable in its intention and its message. But If we are approaching it from the point of music, Nadine Shah can do so much better. And she will deliver again, I am sure.