Staking a claim on PJ Harvey's crown as Britain's leading female art rock singer-songwriter, Nadine Shah's third album has been described by The Guardian as "darkly classy post-punk" and by No Ripcord as "captivatingly bleak" and in this title track she confronts the people and politicians who treat a modern day humanitarian tragedy as a tiresome inconvenience.
Shah recalled the inspiration for the song to Clash magazine in an interview last summer. She was watching a television news broadcast in which a reporter was talking to holidaymakers on the island of Kos in the South Aegean. The island is 5km from the Turkish mainland, making it one of the principle arrival points for migrants seeking refuge in Europe.
"There was this one couple," Shah explained, "and they'd said, 'It's really ruined our holiday'. And I was like, you know what? I can understand, when you've saved up, when you've gone away somewhere to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet and forget all your worries, and then you see all these harrowing things in front of you. No one can have a nice time then, you'll just have this constant guilt, right? But I think what really alarmed me was their unashamed way of saying that on national television."
In the song, that vox-pop sentiment is echoed by the apparently heartless politicians who are willing to turn away desperate refugees fleeing from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, complaining that Britain already has more immigrants than it can cope with.
"We can hear the speakers grinning / In their address to the crowds / How capacities are brimming / But empty buildings all around".
"I think the reason you're an artist is you have a heightened sense of empathy," she told The Standard earlier this year "You can see something and kind of feel it. So you tell people's stories. I think that's your main job."
But in the same article she admits she's "totally aware" that she's preaching to the converted - liberal listeners already sympathetic to the plight of refugees. "I wish I'd written this album and given it to Taylor Swift or Adele," she says, "because they can reach all ages and societies... At gigs I tell people that it feels like the people who hate are winning because they're the ones shouting the loudest. We have to shout louder."
You can learn more about Nadine Shah here
About the curator: Jon Ewing
After graduating from the University of Keele in England with a degree in Politics and American Studies, Jon worked as editor of a music and entertainment magazine before spending several years as a freelance writer and, with the advent of the internet, a website designer, developer and consultant. He lives in Reading, home to one of the world's most famous and long-running music festivals, which he has attended every year since 1992.
Unite and Fight – Mustard Plug
4 March 2021
A high-speed combination of punk chorus and ska verse, Mustard Plug’s singalong Unite and Fight is just one of a sensational 28 tracks on the Ska Against Racism album compiled by Bad Time Records in 2020 to raise funds for non-profit organisations working to improve education, opportunity and justice for black people in the USA and beyond. With a barrelling momentum and a repudiation of violent action, this uplifting song is a call to arms for those of us committed to disarmament.
KIDSTRIKE!- Jim Bob
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Living for the City – Stevie Wonder
28 July 2020
Inspired in part by the fatal shooting in New York of a ten-year-old black boy by a white plain-clothes policeman, the audacious centrepiece of Stevie Wonder’s experimental 1973 album was a seven-and-a-half-minute meditation on the brutality of black America: Living for the City…
A high-speed combination of punk chorus and ska verse, Mustard Plug's singalong Unite and Fight is just one of a sensational 28 tracks on the Ska Against Racism album compiled by Bad Time Records in 2020 to raise funds for non-profit organisations working to improve education, opportunity and justice for black people in the USA and beyond. With a barrelling momentum and a repudiation of violent action, this uplifting song is a call to arms for those of us committed to disarmament.