Album Review

Lady Nade - Willing

This feels like third time lucky for Lady Nade, as she flexes her considerable songwriting and performance skills on the very edges of Americana. It’s almost as if Austin, Texas had upped sticks and landed alongside the River Avon. Or perhaps even vice versa.

Lady Nade - Willing Album Cover

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Nothing is off-limits for Bristolian singer-songwriter Lady Nade. She’s got her heart on her sleeve, raw emotions are exposed and she’s really going for it here; her delivery is consistently upbeat and warm, with her butter-side-up attitude unfurling through her third album. Don’t expect any concessions or Americanisations in her narratives and enunciation either – this is resolutely English Americana, with a distinctly West Country flavour. Her enterprise impresses; as like many peers, she had to assemble her team to make this record across the pandemic, with all the constraints and distances between the participants. It’s all credit to Lady Nade and her collaborators that you really wouldn’t know.

From the title track, Lady Nade’s statement of intent is clear to all. With gorgeous guitar chiming like a bell, she sings of solidarity and offering comfort with her very distinctive, hushed phrasing. On the organic ‘You're My Number One’, she swoops and sweeps downwards in patterns, exploring the idea that money can’t buy the time she needs to spend with her beloved - echoing the eternal idea from the Beatles’ ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’. Her vocal dexterity on ‘Wildfire’, delivered in a lower register for intimacy before tilting upwards, conveys the incendiary intoxication of her passion; the echoed backing vocals reminiscent of the insistence of Philip Glass.

Slap bang in the middle of the record, Lady Nade really galvanises her simmering rage and anger on a trilogy of songs. ‘One Sided’ is key, revealing disappointment at something unreturned and unrequited. She’s unsure of herself and waiting for the first move to be made, the protagonist pushed onto the back foot as she presses forward, mandolins shuffling behind her. With ‘Call Yourself A Friend’, she sings of reaching the end of her tether – there’s a limit to her patience and concludes that enough is enough. Brutally honest, ‘Rock Bottom’ is for an alcoholic friend who has lied to her and nosedived. As licks of guitar nudge the song towards more rocky territory, she continues to sing of how she’s been endlessly betrayed with a trail of broken promises.

The range of knotty emotion on offer here is gratifying. The gentle ‘Peace And Calm’ embraces the tranquillity after the storm, as she sings of her role model – her gardening granddad – passing on his wisdom and sense of stability. The closely observed ‘Josette’ is in praise of a much-loved, beautiful, loyal and kind friend as delightfully noodling backing sounds playfully spiral. She mixes it up again on the joyous ‘Many Ways To Sink This Ship’ with swampy, chunky beats and a 70s psychedelic folk feel reminiscent of Melanie, before closing with ‘Ain't One Thing’ – a whole-hearted declaration of love.

This feels like third time lucky for Lady Nade, as she flexes her considerable songwriting and performance skills on the very edges of Americana. It’s almost as if Austin, Texas had upped sticks and landed alongside the River Avon. Or perhaps even vice versa.

7/10.

Lady Nade's new album 'Willing' is out 18th June.