Nadia Reid‘s 2015 debut LP, listen to formation, look for the signs, was a beautifully complex and intricate album. The Port Chalmers, New Zealand native weaved soul-revealing stories within her folk-inspired sound. At its floor, Reid delivered a statement with the album, if not an instant classic, and it put Reid on the musical map with Pitchfork and The Guardian recognizing her talent. For us, we became enraptured with Reid, and we eagerly awaited the arrival of her new record.
On Friday, Reid’s sophomore effort, Preservation, arrived, but it flew under the radar as another Kiwi stole the headlines with her first song in four years. As Lorde danced on a SUV and created a break-up anthem with “Green Light”, Reid took the opposite approach. Preservation is intimate and thought-provoking. It is cathartic as a result of Reid’s allegorical and often brutally honest songwriting. It is also enrapturing due to the blend of soundscapes she and her longtime guitar mate, Sam Taylor, create.
“Richard” is the album’s centrepiece, and it epitomizes Reid’s multi-talented brilliance. The song is devastatingly beautiful, as Taylor’s guitar chimes in the background while Reid paints an immaculate picture of a former partner and his self-interested ways. There is no angst in Reid’s rich voice, but instead there is sorrow and remorse of how things went. Reid further reaches into the depths of her soul on the captivating “Arrow & The Aim”. The song is heavy and dark, radiating with the power and assertiveness of PJ Harvey and Fiona Apple. Lyrically, it shares similarities to the great Emma Ruth Rundle, a journey of self-preservation and new beginnings as oppose to a weapon piercing one’s heart.
“Right On Time” is Preservation‘s most uplifting song and an unexpected dream-pop gem. Its sunny vibes perfectly complement Reid’s story of two people finding each other. Meanwhile, Reid offers a different take of the relationship song with the cinematic and suspenseful “The Way It Goes”. Musically, the song belongs on the soundtrack of a featured length film. Her storytelling, however, should be immortalized on film.
While Reid has taken a more expansive approach, she hasn’t completely abandoned her folk roots. For instance, “Te Aro” is striking and haunting due to its simplicity and subtlety. Reid’s voice is the star, as she spins an introspective tale of loss and uncertainty. The equally pensive and stirring “Preservation” has an air of Stevie Nicks, as Reid’s voice takes on a breathtaking and sombre quality. The song is shrouded in memory and sorrow, particularly as Reid sings:
I’ll be right behind you.
I know I’ll find the one to hold on to.
The simplest of the album’s songs, “Reach My Destination”, is arguably its most beautiful. Just Reid, her guitar, and her stunning voice, the song encapsulates all the traits that made New Zealanders fall in love with her years ago. It is thoughtful, warm, and intimate. The lyrics are clever and sharp with a touch of humour, as evidenced by:
There were two little words that I used.
One was fuck, the other was you.
It’s the lies we tell that keep us sane and younger.”
For a day, a more famous countrywoman overshadowed Reid’s time in the spotlight. While her second record is less glamourous in its effects and radio-friendliness, it is an immaculate piece of art. And as history has shown us, epic songwriting will always be remembered, and Nadia Reid’s Preservation will endure the test of time.
Preservation is out now via Spunk Records and Basin Rock Records. It can be ordered at Spunk’s store and Reid’s Bandcamp page.
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