Nadia Reid’s plan was to follow-up the slow-burn sadness of 2017’s Preservation with a stripped-down record featuring little beyond guitars and vocals. That didn’t quite work out. Instead, Out of My Province is Reid’s most polished album to date.
The sumptuous settings you'd expect from a team responsible for luxuriously layered records by Matthew E. White (who co-produces here) and Natalie Prass do not divert from Reid's songs. On the contrary: Out of My Province features the New Zealand songwriter's most resonant set of tunes yet. The album packs a particularly compelling pull considering how resistant to easy answers these songs are.
On first listen, Reid's third album resembles a set of quintessential, navel-gazing, singer/songwriter confessionals, with a frequent focus on the wanting, losing and pining for love which goes with this territory. Gradually, Out of My Province accumulates compelling new depths as the complexities lurking beneath the soul-baring surface become clearer. Fired up by themes of restless travel, reflection, reminiscence and memory, shifting moods, companions and circumstances, and wary hope, Out of My Province proves that being profoundly enigmatic - which often leads to frustratingly meaningless wordplay - doesn't have to dull the material’s emotional heft.
"I am looking for something," Reid declares on the uncharacteristically jaunty "Oh Canada", which hides a wealth of restless unease beneath its sunnily romantic veneer. "I don't know what I'm looking for''. This uncertainty works for the benefit of the songs as it's hard to grow tired of something you've never quite properly figured out. It'd be lazily predictable to compare any female songwriter to Joni Mitchell, but it's also tricky not to draw parallels between the Canadian master and Reid's road-marinated accounts of personal growth and transformation. ‘’There is dust settling inside of me’’ Reid declares on "High & Lonely", a sturdy slice of low-lit swagger in the style of Stax studios, suggesting the change isn't quite complete yet.
The widened musical palette helps to pull you in while the songs are digging in their hooks. Pollard's production is astute enough to know when the most potent thing to do is to fade away: "Heart to Ride" is left essentially untampered with, little beyond Reid and long-time collaborator Sam Taylor's guitars. At the opposite end of the production spectrum, the shimmering opener "All of My Love" - a time and place shifting travelogue that provides a perfect introduction to Reid's multi-layered writing - packs all the organs and punchy horns you'd expect from a Spacebomb production, with a heavy-lidded swoon that nods towards Lambchop's Nixon and Cat Power's The Greatest. “The Future” grows into a blustery swirl of twang-fuelled guitars, whilst the haunting closer "Get the Devil Out" is enveloped in sumptuous strings. However, the more richly layered arrangements never detract from the intimate immediacy of Reid's vocals and lyrics.