As much as I always strive to keep Northern Exposure’s Track of the Week strictly Northern, sometimes this is easier said that done. This week shines the spotlight on London-based Nadia Sheikh, and her haunting track ‘Going Down’.
It’s a wonder that Sheikh wasn’t uncovered sooner – all of her previous work is wonderfully praised, and rightfully so. Her voice seems to seamlessly span genres like a shapeshifter-like, accompanying everything from pop, folk and ominous indie rock with a worrying lack of effort.
Her musical palette seems endless – ‘No Preguntes’ is an upbeat, ska-filled number which is sung in her native tongue, and her previous single ‘Flip the Coin’ is an amalgamation of rock and indie which uncannily sits between the tried-and-tested, and the unquestionably flash.
Paradoxically, Sheikh continues her musical tradition with ‘Going Down’, by following no pre-conceived notions at all. What Nadia offers in her music is a delicate, yet fearless voice on the exterior, and a hardened love of rock beneath, in all its forms.
These two elements may come from different genres, but they’re paired together brilliantly – this potential car crash of different genres could lead to an inconsistent mess of a musical identity, the opposite has occurred; Sheikh is well on her way to asserting herself as a quirky, insightful and catchy artist, and this is clear with her latest offering.
Everything starts off innocently enough, with a lone two chords gradually being accompanied by a distressed, sliding guitar which is more reminiscent of air-raid siren. The pace remains reserved throughout the track, but that certainly doesn’t detract from the power, soul and silent authority behind the tune.
Picture a landscape on the verge of collapse, or a pessimistic array of Thom Yorke’s stream-of-consciousness, and you’ll get a gist of the atmosphere created by this tune. Be assured, despite the lyrics positioning song’s world as dire and bleak, it’s a result which is achieved through beautiful means – everything’s going to shit, but at least you’ll enjoy the journey.
Sheikh’s backing band comes into full effect during the chorus, too. While her voice is more than powerful enough to sustain the track, the backing vocals add an extra layer of emotion, remaining unmarred by excessively-driven instruments.
If you’re a fan of effortlessly emphatic, wonderfully crafted tracks written by an original singer/songwriter, then look no further.
Catch Nadia Sheikh on the 3rd of March at The Water Rats, London, alongside our own highly-touted Calva Louise and The Velvet Hands.