Nadia Reid - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:

Nadia Reid is 15 dates into a huge 34 date European tour yet remains relatively unknown this side of the world. Word travels fast however and Reid will undoubtedly head back home with a lot of new fans (not literally of course, she won’t be taking you all back to New Zealand). I first heard about Reid a couple of weeks ago through a friends recommendation while another person I talk to simply over-heard the soundcheck and felt compelled to come in.

To put us in the right frame of mind we’re treated to an opening set from Sheffield’s Jim Ghedi. A purveyor of instrumentally intricate folk music and an accomplished guitarist by anyone’s standards, it’s clear that Ghedi is an extremely gifted musician. The songs consist of disarming, finger-picked acoustic guitar and the subtle double-bass contributions of Neal Heppleston. It’s all quite beautiful and at one point my friend describes their music as sounding “like Christmas”.

On the occasions where Ghedi chooses to sing the performance takes on an even more startling quality. Taking to a squeeze-box to perform a song based on recordings he found of his Irish immigrant grandparents, the results are powerful, haunting and undeniably moving.

Nadia Reid is a songwriter in the classic mould, crafting songs of love and life. Comparisons have been made to the likes of Joni Mitchell and while they are certainly complimentary they don’t necessarily tell the whole story. The songs contained within her two studio albums come across as deeply personal and therefore could only ever have really have come from Reid.  

Reid is often labelled as a folk singer and while this sometimes feels appropriate, it’s a label that fails to summarise the influences present on her recent LP, Preservation. What we definitely have for certain is a talented and considered songwriter.

An unassuming figure, Reid takes to the stage with her guitar and proceeds to play the rather lovely ‘Seasons Change’ from her debut LP Listen to Formation, Look for Signs. Reid’s voice is an undeniable highlight from the very start, a gentle yet purposeful delivery that guides each song along. With the introductions out of the way Reid is joined by a second guitarist who also provides some particularly well-placed harmonies.

Occasionally Reid gives us a little background on what we’re about to hear. ‘Reach My Destination’ is a sparse, folky ballad that she wrote after moving back home with her mum after a relationship ended. A reflective and quietly hopeful composition that also manages to include the most innocently sung swear word I’ve heard this side of Belle & Sebastian. It’s so natural and honest that you can almost picture Reid sat on the end of her bed writing the opening line.

The songs may primarily consist of heartbreak yet like all good troubadours Reid is chatty and funny between songs.  At one point she talks a little about the merch they’ve been carrying around with them, momentarily excited to see an audience member head towards the table only to see him veer off into the toilet as she sighs in mock exasperation. It’s not all guitars and the open road, sometimes you’ve got to try and make a living too.

The songs only seem to get better and better with ‘Richard’ and ‘Ain’t Got You’ coming towards the end of the set. The former is a quietly angry confessional in the mould of Sharon Van Etten while the latter is just about the most nakedly beautiful song I’ve heard in years. Like all great love songs, ‘Ain’t Got You’ is deceptively simple and manages to really get to the heart of things. Tomorrow she’ll be back on the road and heading to Dublin, if it’s anything like tonight they’re in for a real treat. It’s heartening to see that the merch stall seems pretty busy after the show too.

Photo by Josh Yong



Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars