Nadia Reid evokes the spirit of her homeland, New Zealand, better than those Flight Of The Conchords boys ever could. Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs is filled with songs of folk music for wide open spaces, with songs as personal as the firm portrait on the sleeve art. Released on the Spunk label.
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This warm, worrisome record does the best thing a singer-songwriter album can: it parts the curtains, wades through the trees, and finds a nice open space to exist in. Nadia Reid’s record is bristling with little affectations that contribute to an expansive setting: drums brush and crash to mark slight changes in the weather, double-bass booms as if reminding us of our small place in the landscape, and extra crystalline guitar riffs come in like night interrupting the day.
Centering the record is Reid’s quiet acoustic performance, which is as slow and meticulous as Trespassers’ William and Low, scrolling at a tempo that allows twang to ring out in full on “Track of the Time” and fully wrings home the sparse tensions of “Holy Low”. On tracks like “Just To Feel Alive”, she couples a lethargic approach to songwriting with an echoing production that makes her music sound deceptively alone -- striking chords and opportunistic drum fills come in and snap us out of our assuming slumber.
When Reid’s music gets a little bit more ecstatic, it feels distracting, like we’ve been taken out of this studiously slow world she’s created. “Reaching Through” -- a fuzzy and synthed-the-fuck-up jam with a couple pedal moments that quietly envy the My Bloody Valentines -- is totally disorientating in lieu of the songs around it, but it might also be necessary: it’s easy to lose sight of yourself when making full on slowcore, and sometimes you need to remind yourself what it’s like to get fucking furious. Overall, though, ‘Listen To Formation, Look for the Signs’ sounds the loudest when it’s at its quietest.
9/10 Tim Young 20th December 2015
The current wave of great music coming from the other side of the globe continues with this lovely album from Nadia Reid. There is clearly some excellent songwriting here that is going to need further listening to enjoy fully, so I can see this one sitting in my 'day to day rotation with the family around' pile very nicely. If you like Tiny Ruins you should probably buy this - even if it is a bit louder and more heavily produced in places.
I guess it also helps that she has my mum's glasses from the 80s.
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