Text: Paul van der Zalm

After almost one year and a half, we have barely recovered from “Crash”, the rock-solid track from Nilüfer Yanya’s Feeling Lucky EP. It is therefore surprising that she has made us wait so long for the follow-up to her successful debut album ‘Miss Universe’. There is no lack of creativity, but perhaps Nilüfer Yanya exposes herself even more on Painless than before.

The motto on the cover is in line with this: ‘Under it all I’m shameless, until you fall it’s painless’. For the album to become a reality, we have Will Archer to thank for his inspiration. After contributing to one of the other songs on the EP, he now co-wrote and plays guitar on eight of the twelve tracks on the album. On two tracks, Yanya again collaborated with Bullion and Jazzi Bobbi also contributed on two tracks. It is also worth mentioning that she wrote and recorded the song ‘The Mystic’ with Andrew Sarlo, who we know from Big Thief.

It is a clever thing that Painless, despite its great variety, sounds like a whole. The opening track “The Dealer” is an instant hit: it’s a powerful song based on a fast breakbeat. “Chase Me” is a bit similar, but is a bit heavier and relies more on guitar and bass. The pace is even faster in the single “Stabilise”, which is accompanied with a video shot by her older sister Molly Daniel; lyrically, it’s a confrontation with the past. As with most of the other tracks, it’s only on closer listening that you realise how cleverly the songs are constructed musically. Yanya’s two voices are used to best effect, sometimes as a choir, sometimes in an alternation that keeps things exciting. However, with the lyric booklet beside you, it becomes clear that she is freely interpreting her own words.

The lead track “Shameless” is one of the quietest and most easy listening songs, on which Yanya makes full use of her voice. Interestingly, “Trouble” relies heavily on guitar repetition and modulation, before ending with an outro with distorted guitar sounds. “Comfort” is a quiet comfort song that Yanya dedicated to the Danish singer Søren Holm, who died young. The last track, “Another Life”, is a sensual song with a video that seems to recall “Crash”.

Nilüfer Yanya will perform a UK and EU tour from tonight on, starting with Belfast (March 11), Manchester, Bristol and London (March 14, 15, 16).