by Ian Mann
December 19, 2023
Lady Nade’s most mature album yet. She’s an artist capable of appealing to a wide cross-section of listeners, but without in any way compromising her artistic integrity.
(Self Released LNLP 2103)
Lady Nade – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, Daniel Everett – bass, backing vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion, Sean Snook – electric guitar, lap steel guitar, Holly Carter – pedal steel guitar, Mike Cooper – drums, Paul Isaac – keys
Lady Nade is the stage name of the Bristol based singer, guitarist and songwriter Nadine Gingell.
I first became aware of her music at the 2019 Wall2Wall Jazz Festival, organised by the Black Mountain Jazz Club in Abergavenny. Performing at the Jazz Lounge venue at the King’s Head Hotel Nade presented the themed show “Tribute to the Blues Dames”, which saw her paying homage to Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Nina Simone, Etta James, Big Mama Thornton, Ma Rainey, Ruth Brown and Sister Rosetta Tharp.
Nade performed in a duo format, singing and playing some acoustic guitar in the company of Holly Carter, who played a beautiful Gretsch Electromatic guitar, that looked authentically vintage but which had actually been manufactured in 2008.
This was a well attended and very successful show that also saw Nade performing original songs from her albums “Hard To Forget” (2015) and “Safe Place” (2019), both of which feature her singing, playing and writing in the company of a full band. My review of Lady Nade’s performance in Abergavenny can be found here;
Nade is a versatile singer, writer and musician who is equally comfortable performing as a solo artist on the folk circuit. In the autumn of 2023 I enjoyed her solo performance at Ludlow Distillery at an event presented by Shropshire based promoters ShireFolk, who describe themselves as “a brand new folk music touring network for Shropshire and Herefordshire”. Co-ordinated by the husband and wife team of Westley and Jen Bone ShireFolk invite artists to undertake ‘mini-tours’, usually playing gigs on successive evenings at Ludlow Distillery, The Jam Factory in Hereford and Violet’s Tearooms in Bridgnorth. Details of forthcoming ShireFolk events can be found here;
Nade’s show at Ludlow featured her singing and guitar playing and included many of the songs from her latest album, “Willing”, which was released in 2021. With Carter absent Nade played a lot more guitar than she had at Abergavenny and I was very impressed by her ability as an instrumentalist. I attended this show as a paying customer, and therefore didn’t take notes or write a review. Nade was supported by the Bridgnorth based duo of Dan Williams (vocals, guitar, songwriter) and Iain Wheeler (bass guitar) and the whole event was hugely enjoyable, with both acts performing admirably. After the show I spoke with Nade, who remembered me from Abergavenny and very kindly suggested that I might like to take away a copy of “Willing” for review purposes. So, here, rather belatedly, is that very review.
“Willing” represents Nade’s ‘lockdown’ album with the music having been recorded “in multiple studios and engineered by all the musicians in isolation”. The finished product been brought together by producer Nade in conjunction with engineer / programmer Paul Isaac, who also shares a writing credit on one track and plays keyboards on another.
Nade’s first two albums boasted a pop / soul sheen that hinted at yet other musical directions for this versatile artist to explore. With a greater emphasis on various varieties of guitar “Willing” fits more neatly into the Folk / Americana category, but there are still plenty of other musical influences at work.
The opening song, “Willing” itself, begins the album on a positive note with its message of hope, loyalty, understanding and tolerance, with lyrics like “I will stand by you willingly” and “here with an open heart, willingly”. Nade’s soulful vocals are accompanied by a variety of guitars, bass and percussion, with Everett presumably overdubbing himself.
“Complicated” explores one of those “can’t live with him, can’t live without him” emotional predicaments, with Nade’s pure but yearning vocals again supported by guitars, with a keening steel guitar sound giving the music even more of a country / Americana flavour.
It’s a flavour that continues even more strongly into “You’re My Number One”, a song that simultaneously laments the drudgery and economic struggles of the workaday existence while celebrating the compensation provided by true romantic love. Nade’s wistful but warm vocals are again complemented by steel guitar sounds.
The joyous “Josette” celebrates the beauty and loyalty of a friend, “what would I do without you?”
The following “Wildfire” represents a darker cousin, with a minor key melody but still preaching a positive message. “Keep spreading all your love, my Wildfire”, urges the lyric, while encouraging its subject to stand firm against the travails of the world. The arrangement features the effective use of backing vocals by co-writer Daniel Everett, these helping to add depth and gravitas to the song.
Clangorous electric guitar sets the tone for “One Sided”, a more bitter song written from the point of view of a lover who is growing tired of being taken for granted. It’s an evocative song with real bite, and one that demonstrates Nade’s increasing maturity as a vocalist and lyricist.
“Call Yourself A Friend” explores broadly similar territory, this time castigating a friend for their disloyalty in a kind of ‘love triangle’ situation. The words are set to a backdrop of tautly strummed acoustic guitars, with backing vocals again playing an important part in the arrangement.
There’s no let up with “Rock Bottom”, co-written with Everett, and a bleak song addressing a friend who has sunk to such depths through a combination of alcohol and drugs. The opening lines seem to describe the scene of a suicide attempt before going on to tackle the broader issue of mental health. The use of stinging electric guitar, in conjunction with Nade’s voice, helps to lend the song, a visceral quality.
Hope is restored by “Peace and Calm”, a very personal song dedicated to Nade’s grandfather and his beneficial effect on his granddaughter. The economical arrangement largely features Nade’s voice and acoustic guitar, but does include the judicious use of backing vocals.
Co-written by Nade and Paul Isaac “Many Ways To Sink This Ship”, a rollicking account of a fractious relationship with bitter but witty lyrics,. Backing vocals are again cleverly deployed amidst the chugging acoustic guitars.
The album concludes with “Ain’t One Thing”, a song that was nominated as UK Song of The Year in 2021. It’s a key song for Nade who describes it as;
“A declaration of love and self love – a promise never to try and change a person or oneself, even if they stir up a heady cocktail of attributes and flaws. It’s a tool for positive body image, mental health and well-being, to challenge how society presents and views the physical body and to celebrate all bodies regardless of physical ability, size, gender, race or appearance.”
It’s a manifesto that fits the title track too.
Nade also states;
“A huge part of my career has been advocating the holistic connection between music and well being”.
Turning to the song itself “Ain’t One Thing” is the only track featuring a full band performance, with Isaac playing keys and Cooper at the drum kit. It’s a song that celebrates romantic love and in a wider context the love of humanity. This positive lyrical message helps to end the album an an optimistic note.
With its exploration of a wide range of human emotions and with its willingness to engage with some of the darker aspects of the human experience this is Lady Nade’s most mature album yet. Her lyrics are often intensely personal, while simultaneously exploring universal themes – it’s a quality that informs the work of many great songwriters, among them Joni Mitchell, John Lennon and Peter Hammill.
Equally importantly Nade has the vocal ability to do justice to her words, a pure but warm and soulful voice that is also flexible and capable of singing across a range of musical styles. She is also well served by her musicians in a series of economical but effective arrangements that serve the songs well.
“Willing” is a long way from being a jazz album but it’s one that I have enjoyed very much, with my appreciation having been enhanced thanks to having been to a couple of Nade’s excellent live appearances. She’s an artist capable of appealing to a wide cross-section of listeners, but without in any way compromising her artistic integrity. She has already accrued a loyal following, and it’s one that can only continue to grow.
Lady Nade’s music and merchandise is available here;
blog comments powered by Disqus