Nadine Shah – Filthy Underneath (Album Review)


Now over a decade since debuting in 2013 with Love Your Dum and Mad, Nadine Shah is set to return with her newest album Filthy Underneath

Recapping, after a brief respite from touring, and nearly three years after 2020’s Kitchen Sink, Shah comes back to the music scene pumped up with a visionary compilation of songs in 2024. Her fifth overall studio album, Filthy Underneath makes its debut on February 23rd via EMI North. Exciting for fans, it is a 11-track metamorphic album that tackles the caliginous issues of substance abuse and depression with candor and fortitude in under an hour of music. 

Breaking down the work behind this new collection, the acoustical pulse behind Shah is regulated by long-time Co-writer/Producer Ben Hillier. Filthy Underneath, as the title implies, is an in-your-face exploration into the dingy darkness that lurks in the shadows of human souls ready to pop out during personal crises and lead one onto a downward spiral path. That said, Shah’s booming vocals peel back the emotional layers of the soul to reveal the anguish that lies like a layer of filth underneath and wafts up like the sting of an exposed onion.

Shah, no stranger to inner darkness, shares the stark reality of a mental breakdown on the track “Topless Mother.” A curious title, it is a study in the psychodynamics of depression and the questionable value of one size fits all therapeutic intervention. The music is upbeat and enjoyable to listen to, however,  the lyrics are sung in a mesmerizing and soulful way that makes a deep nosedive plunge into the cerebral matter and creates a long-lasting visual image. Then there are songs like “Twenty Things” which express sentiments that are usually hidden from the public eye. The sickness of addiction is usually swept under the rug because of the shame, but Shah rolls the bitter pill of truth into a beautiful jazzy melody to make it palatable and easier to mentally process. The terms of engagement are clear here – stop what you are doing and take a reality check. Simply put, the song really hits home and is relatable on so many levels. 

Moving along, “Keeping Score” is another identifiable track that delves deep in the scorekeeping game that underscores many unhealthy relationships. It speaks loudly of the negative mental state that an accumulation of put downs creates in dysfunctional dynamics, but Shah makes it bearable to listen to the truth. On the other hand, “Greatest Dancer” showcases Shah’s singing skill even more; where her voice draws you magnetically into her vortex. The interplay of melodies and drum tempo will make your heart skip a beat, thus making this another standout on the album. 

Overall, Filthy Underneath is brilliantly done and truly heartfelt. Shah’s strong velvety smooth vocals come through like a blast of fresh air. Picture it this way – Nadine Shah rises like a phoenix fluffing her feathers after an arduous climb from the abyss of hell. A kind of catharsis. We all know that life intermittently tosses a few curveballs… but thankfully albums like Filthy Underneath can provide that essential sonic inspiration and emotional boost needed to forge on ahead after a downward tumble. If you are going through a rough patch or need a reminder that others go through the same life struggles, this album is a must listen. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Filthy Underneath 5 out of 5 stars.

Nadine Shah - Filth Underneath album
Nadine Shah – Filth Underneath / EMI North (2024)

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