“Don’t worry about it. Just write that it’s the best thing you’ve ever heard.”
That’s the kind of understanding response you want from a music maker who has just been told that due to an outrageous lack of ability when it comes to any kind of technology glitch, you haven’t been able to listen to the new album we’re supposed to be talking about.
“I love chatting anyway, so we’re fine. This is the fun bit.”
Lionel Richie aside (wait for the name to drop... and carry on), Nadine Shah might be the most press-friendly singer I’ve had the pleasure of talking to in the past decade of doing this.
Smack in the middle of a back-to-back day of interviews to promote her second solo album, Fast Food – and the collection of live dates which accompany it – the former jazz club singer couldn’t sound happier... if a little wobbly at the prospect of the upcoming release on April 6.
“It’s terrifying. It’s a really odd thing to do,” she says. “There’s no other thing in life that you do, which sees you get so publicly judged. I mean I love what I do, and I feel really lucky to be doing it, but this is a strange bit.
“I get the reviews sent through from my management, but I don’t let myself Google myself any more.”
Having enjoyed a boatload of acclaim, radio play and associated success with her darkly beautiful 2013 debut, Love Your Dum and Mad, the South Tyneside-bred, but longtime London-living singer says she made a conscious decision not to leave people waiting too long for the follow up, which once again saw her hooking up with trusted collaborator, Ben Hillier.
“I think you can quite easily take too much time making albums, trying to perfect them. It would be very easy to get months or years down the line before you put it out - and by then you’d probably hate it and want to move on to other things,” she says.
“In an ideal world I want to be making an album a year. This one was made over a pretty intense period. So we had a month or two of writing and then a month of recording.”
Nadine, who recently took advantage of a no-show by shingles-laden Jon Hopkins at the BBC 6 Music Festival and put in a sterling turn in Sage Gateshead’s Hall Two, says she was also keen to get something out which painted a truer picture of where and who she is now.
“On the first album, I was singing songs I’d written as a kid, so it didn’t really feel like a proper representation of who I was musically at that time... and you do get sick of playing the same songs. Playing the first album live kind of informed what I wanted to do with this one,” she continues. “We had two songs in the set which were more guitar driven and the crowd would move when we played them, which is odd for one of our shows. Generally people would stand still and stroke their chins,” she laughs.
“That’s kind of infectious. When people do it, you really want to make them do it more. And because playing live is such an important part of what we do, I wanted it to be a more enjoyable experience for me and my band, so we wrote guitar, bass and drum parts specifically with that in mind.”
And it’s worked a treat if the video for single, Fool is anything to go by. Filmed in a social club in London, a guitar-playing Nadine literally has people dancing up a storm, and all to her new tune.
“I just did a shout out that if anyone fancied coming down for a dance and some free booze on a week day, they should come down. It’s pretty much filled with Geordie ex-pats who didn’t mind skiving off work for the day,” she laughs.
Thankfully for her home crowd, Nadine’s upcoming gig at Gateshead Town Hall on April 11 has been scheduled outside working hours – a Saturday night no less.
Supported by her favourite of the region’s current crop of bands, Retriever, Nadine is looking forward to coming home, (“although I get up there all the time, so it doesn’t really feel like I’ve ever properly left”).
“We’re looking forward to playing a lot of the new album. I know there’s a lot of artists who come out with a new album but only play two of three of the new songs when they have a live show. I’m not going to do that.
“It’s going to be mainly new stuff and I know it’s a big ask for an audience because they’re very familiar with your older work... but I’ll still play the hits,” she laughs. I promise to have heard them all by then and secure my ticket.
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