Review Summary: What lies beneath the surfacePreservation is about the point I started to love myself again. It is about strength, observation and sobriety. It’s about when I could see the future again. When the world was good again. When music was realized as my longest standing comfort.
– Nadia Reid
After nearly two months of trying to crack the mystery that is Nadia Reid, I think it’s finally time to just spit it out: Preservation
is one of the most quietly powerful albums of the year. The singer-songwriter’s presence remains stubbornly ingrained in the background of my mind. I should have her sound and lyrics all pinned down by now, but something about her music remains elusive and cryptic – even more so than the first time I stumbled across the massive “Richard.” It’s a glowing standout that leads into some of the record’s most colorful lyrics: Richard liked the sound of his own voice/By the kitchen in the mirror/It extracted all of our teeth/Filled the sink with blood/And I am on the cross of forgiveness/He wanted it final, finally.
With her soaring vocals, Reid’s somewhat dark lyricism is instantly captivating, but hard to decipher; there’s always something lying beneath the surface.
is a nagging sense that Nadia Reid wrote this album entirely for herself, with little, if any thought of her audience. It’s this deeply personal approach that makes her music so powerful and authentic. She could have made every song as vibrant and emotional as “Richard”, but the majority of Preservation
is much more reflective and quiet. These slow-burners take longer to sink in, but it’s worth
it. The opening title track is a strong representation of the album’s sound: with hazy, unpolished guitars floating quietly behind Reid’s towering vocals. Admittedly, the production tends to focus on Reid’s voice, but there’s a lot of brilliance in the instrumentation that may feel vague at first. Though it’s a folk album, there are little sprinkles of country, blues, and even gospel throughout Preservation
that give it a strong, resonating sense of character. The album closes properly with “Ain’t Got You”, an outstanding country track with a subtle twang and flair that leads into a richly harmonized chorus. As Reid croons When I get to heaven, will you take me as I am"/I’ve got everything I need/I have my horses/And my Dreams
, there’s a level of contentment in her solitude that’s purely poetic. It’s a closer that leaves you wanting more.
Even now, as I gush in attempt to unravel what’s so special about Nadia Reid, it’s as if I’m hearing her for the first time. There are many different musical styles and moods throughout Preservation
, but it’s the way they’re meticulously conveyed and intertwined that keeps things feeling fresh. From the playful beats of “Right on Time” to the unique ambience of “Te Aro”, Reid covers a lot of ground here without ever going over the top. Unlike some albums that are instantly catchy, but quickly fade, this is an effort with longevity written all over it. Even the deeper cuts like “Richard” and “The Arrow and the Aim” don’t show any signs of growing stale. There’s just something special about her music that’s hard to pin down at times, but it sure as hell keeps reeling me back in. Fragile, mysterious, and powerful, Preservation
is one of the most elusively passionate albums of the year.