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A richness of voice; a depth of emotion; and wise beyond her years; with Listen To Formation, Look For the Signs, 23-year-old New Zealand native Nadia Reid has claimed her place as one of the country’s most evocative and profound young songwriters. Her music traces the sharp mountain peaks, azure coastline, and mirrored images of the land and sky that pinpoint her home country’s vast open landscapes.
“For me, inspiration for writing happens everywhere,” explains Nadia. “On buses, airplanes, walking, driving… it can be very unpredictable. My songs have a strong connection to the places they were written, from Port Chalmers, to Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland.”
Whether nerding about with friends, stunning audiences into silence with her spellbinding live shows or unwinding in the tranquillity of her favourite hometown spot overlooking Port Chalmers’ harbour through her large-rimmed spectacles, Nadia Reid has achieved a gloriously fresh and eloquent new folk sound. “I’ve been in New Zealand my whole life and guess at times I take for granted the serene beauty that I live so closely with,” she says of her music’s majestic affiliation with nature. Mapping out tales of change and loss, whilst drawing inspiration from reading, writing, the human condition, falling in and out of love, death, and birth - it all lends to a superbly balanced album that moves surreptitiously between sparse and fragile melancholia to beautifully brutal lyricism with a philosophical maturity that bellies her years.
Born in Auckland, Nadia’s acoustic roots stem from an upbringing in a musical household where attending folk clubs and festivals were regular occurrences on the family calendar. “I was lucky to witness a lot of live music and theatre performances because my mum was an actress. I was encouraged to learn piano and guitar, and attended a Steiner school where we spent a lot of time in nature, singing songs.” Before long Nadia was listening to The Be Good Tanyas with friend and fellow recording artist Aldous Harding, which spurred her chosen career path. “There was something spiritual about the Tanyas’ records - I vividly remember the goose-bump feelings up my arms, a true connection to the lyrics and vocals,” she recalls. “[Aldous] was the first person who told me I had a good voice and I thank her for that. I admire her as an artist and writer, and we like to keep up with what each other is up to.”
Creating her own enchanting wonderworld, each of Nadia’s songs explores the elements; truly organic, her vocals ebb, flow and soar but are always ignited with fire from the gut. Her lyrics clearly reference lush landscapes but equally reflect alienation provided by the surrounding Pacific Ocean and mortality of living in such close proximity to Mother Nature’s wrath, as experienced whilst living in Christchurch at the time of 2011’s devastating earthquake. “It shook the city to its core,” Nadia recalls. “I’m sure living through it has shaped my personality and writing. My first EP was recorded just months afterwards, it was a strange time. We were all quite fragile, but I was braver somehow.”
Boldly infusing folk with full flavour, Listen To Formation, Look For The Signs was produced by Ben Edwards, owner of Lyttelton Records in his Sitting Room studios with Nadia’s band consisting bassist Richie Pickard, guitarist Sam Taylor and percussionist Joe McCallum. Whilst 'Reaching Through’s rich but unhurried nature evokes She Hangs Brightly -era Mazzy Star and intricate nuances of Beth Orton are recalled on lead single ‘Call The Days’ which talks of moving to a new town and was the first song penned after Nadia moved from Christchurch to Wellington; spurred on by a “panic attack” and being “worried about making the right choices in life”. Elsewhere ‘Runway’ and ‘Some Are Lucky’ immediately channel Nadia’s love of TBGT’s Jolie Holland and appreciation for New Zealand’s Maori music by Maisey Rika and Anika Moa, plus the inspirational narratives of Kenyan-born Somali poet Warsan Shire.
"It has all that well-smoked wisdom, that mingling of strength and yearning that seems to charge the work of all my favourite female artists – Laura Marling, The Weather Station, Sharon Van Etten and Tift Merritt, to name but four. Reid is just 23, and since I am loathe to run that “old beyond her years” line, let us simply say that when I hear a young artist making an album as soulful and rich and self-possessed as Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs, I feel so thrilled not only for the existence of that record but for all the music they will make over all the years to come.” THE GUARDIAN.
Track Of The Time
Just To Feel Alive
Some Are Lucky
Call The Days