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Nadia Reid is one of a string of female folk artists, think Julie Byrne, Julia Jacklin, and Aldous Harding, that have broken through this year. The distinct silence that meets Nadia’s question of how many people were at her last Manchester concert in February just shows how quick her rise has been.

Like all of these breakthrough artists, Nadia has a quality that raises her above the rabble below. On her second album Preservation, Nadia claimed that “It is about strength, observation and sobriety,” and it is exactly these characteristics that sort her from the rest. Her instrumentation broods and swells with emotion, her words are visceral and truthful, her demeanour, plain speaking and intimidating.

All of that is immediately evident tonight. Her height dwarfs the microphone below her and her expression is not one of shyness but instead of quiet confidence. The guitar is pensive on tonight’s opener ‘Seasons Change’, which is taken from her debut album Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs, but the words are as pointed as ever. Nadia sings, “it is good to love a heart that so surely understands,” before an irredeemable distance appears between her and her lover, “I look up from where I stand, he looks up from where he stood.”

Her next song ‘The Way It Goes’, as the title suggests, is similarly shot through with brutal honesty. Lightness is not something you come to expect with Nadia Reid and this tale of unrequited love is given the anticipated unhappy ending in a well-defined brittle chorus.

Her songs, like the red roses tied around her microphone stand, are rooted in the past. In ‘Right on Time’ alone there are mentions of “the harbour”, “a turtledove”, “a maple” and “horses in the stable”. The words may be antiquated but they are plump with meaning. ‘Right on Time,’ like the two songs that came before, leaves us suspended in Nadia’s hardened palms.

In between songs she sips at herbal tea, green tea if I were a betting man, and cracks premeditated jokes with a deadpan expression. Ahead of ‘Reach My Destination’, Nadia cracks a joke that “nothing hammers home your singledom more than a single bed in your mother’s house,” before celebrating that she has recently moved out. Reid’s honesty reaches its peak when she sings “there are two little words that I used, one was ‘fuck’ the other was ‘you'” to the sound of more laughter passing through the Deaf Institute.

On ‘Richard’, probably tonight’s most punchy song, she imagines a past boyfriend extracting teeth and filling the sink with blood. However, ‘Preservation’, the title track from her new album, is the most stunning song of the night. Unrewarded loyalty is the theme that runs through this track and it is at its most potent when Nadia wails “I ain’t my mother, you are your father’s son, I am right behind you.”

Whether ‘Preservation’ represents Nadia’s simple ability to go on or her commitment to preserve the past, the ease with which Nadia does both in her actions and her songs points to a strong, formidable future.

Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.