IDWK / LOVE IS UNDEFINED (ACOUSTIC)

IDWK is a song which manages to find the balance between haunting and yet reassuring. It’s one of those pieces that seems to strike a chord with you as soon as the melodic theme begins to emerge, and even more so as that theme develops. It feels familiar and somehow just seems to sit exactly right in the ears. The song was first released on Nadia Sheikh‘s 4-track EP, Undefined, in November 2021. The new version, which came out on 10th February this year, is a simple, stripped-back reimagining of the work.

“I always try to add at least one acoustic track to my EPs as it brings things back to where they started but also shows a different side of a song, focusing on the songwriting and giving it a different mood/feel. So for “Undefined” I decided I wanted to follow up the release with two acoustic versions”, she says. The second song she’s referring to is a stripped-back piano rendition of the EP’s second track, Love Is Undefined, which was released on 10th March.

Nadia has certainly found a different side to IDWK, or perhaps ‘unearthed it’ is a better description. She’s spent time and love on this project – examining the song closely, taking it apart, and then reassembling it using only the most vital component parts. The result is a surprisingly tender rendition; it’s just Nadia opening her heart, expressing herself, and showing a vulnerability which was perhaps a bit more disguised in the full band recording. It was a great idea to release this version – it complements the full recording and sits alongside it very naturally, while also providing something further.

Where on the EP the song builds consistently with the help of firm drums and guitar underlays, reaching a crescendo in a guitar solo towards the end, and then dropping away slightly, the acoustic version strolls on in a more circumspect way, with subtle peaks and troughs throughout the song. There’s naturally more of a reflective feel to an acoustic rendition like this. With a more sparse instrumental section, you get to hear Nadia’s voice a little more too. It’s a lovely voice – icy pure and resonant at times, and at other times rich and mellow when she drops it down.

With Love Is Undefined, the differences are perhaps more subtle. The previously released recording also begins with – and is centred round – some simple, stark piano melodies. But in the acoustic version, this piano underlay becomes a focal point and interestingly that seems to conjure a more haunting, poignant atmosphere. Again, Nadia’s voice comes to the forefront more, and you find yourself noticing certain lyrics much more too. “My lover turns to dust … There’s a kind of stridency to the vocals, an added layer of passion and emotion. I found myself hit much harder – stopped in my tracks – when listening to the stripped-back song. It somehow burrows into you, grabs and holds your attention, and doesn’t let you go until the song is fully done. Very hard-hitting.

If you’ve not encountered Nadia Sheikh before, go and check out the Undefined EP.  It was written over a 12-month period, and is described as “a candid and earnest exploration of relationships that have defined her life and how they can break down.”  The acoustic version of IDWK (and the upcoming Love Is Undefined) were recorded at 123 Studios in London with Brett Shaw, alongside the recording of the full EP versions.

UPCOMING LIVE DATES

12.3.22 – Yardbirds, Grimsby

14.3.22 – Little Buildings, Newcastle

15.3.22 – Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh

16.3.22 – Audio, Glasgow

29.4.22 – Lo Quiosc, Talarn Music Experience, Catalonia (Spain)

5.5.22 – Siroco, Madrid (Spain) – TBA

6.5.22 – Pub Terra, Castellon (Spain)

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Words by Phil Taylor

Words by Phil Taylor