Review of Hardships by Nadia Nair
Annie Lennox meets Alt J in this masterful chant of a track by Gothenburg artist Nadia Nair. If ever there was a video reflective of its lyrics it is this one, “Hardships”. Consisting of powerful tribal sounding drum beats, strong theatrical main vocals against an ethereal backing set of same, a deep baseline and an infectious chant, this track makes for an instant flaring up of the adrenaline and an awakening of the nerves at the scruff of the neck. Combining all of this with subliminal imagery in the video for “Hardships” Ms Nair delivers a solid package to the listener. Her voice is distinctive. Her imprint on the mind is piercing, spearing her into prime target position on the radar as one to watch.
The video depicts Nadia as the wise and experienced leader of a tribe calling out to the member of the group who has fallen. Using imagery of the elephant (symbolising reliability, dignity, royalty, pride and power) behind Nadia as she sings “you went deeper when I swam down, through the floor in the sea. For you were much younger when you fell down. For you I made a softer street…” the track is opening up with an understanding through experience of another person’s disposition and an understanding as to why they are in the situation that they now find themselves.
The reference to “street” and the glance in a far off direction while singing “brought this damn town down to its knees” points in the direction of the problem being one of involving the public eye and Nadia is calling out to this member of the group that they have got to find a way to work through their issues, the obstacles most likely being that of the opinion of others.
The visuals are clever as they use, in classical thought, the four elements wind (Nadia), earth, water and fire. These are ancient concepts hence the flashes of ancient inscription like drawings onscreen.
The elements were considered by philosophers to be the simplest parts of which anything can consist of and if you look at it another way the breaking down of the components of what the body dissolves into. “Come lay your head right here on my shoulder” is the lyrical hook in this track. Come lay your head and we will break this problem down is what Nadia is saying. Having recognised the issue she will help to get to the source of it. By using the elements the visuals are indicative of the breaking down of the problem which is reflective of what happens in any situation when one is faced with fighting adversity. Clever production making this video a real work of art.
Nadia is now back with the elephant behind her. By now the problem has been recognised and understood and the method of combat about to be devised. Elephants are determined and loyal animals. They are always defending the weaker members of the group and at this stage Nadia is offering full support in battle, “I’ll carry you heavier than a mountain…These are the hardships, sail on some good shit” and “They can try hit you, hit you right through me.”
The eye of the sun imagery reminds me of a story I heard when I was at college, “The best place to hide is in the eye of the sun”. It was about a group of hunters who did not hide in forests before pouncing on their prey. Instead the hunters would do the opposite and stand out in a wide open field with the sun at their backs. Their prey would think it safe to wander into the field to feed and rest not looking in the direction of the sun as it would blind them and even if they did they would not see the hunters standing there anyway. The imagery of the open field in this video and the eye of the sun is very powerful. No matter how bad you are feeling do not hide but instead come outside, your feelings masked to all by the glare of the smile on your face and only then do battle.
The flashes of wine images and the breaking of glass depicts the celebration that will take place when the battle has been won.
Great video. Brilliant track. Fresh sound. Looking forward to the next one by Nadia Nair.
Review by Nicola Timmons