London pop singer-songwriter Nazneen Rahman is back with her new album, the polished and diverse I’m Too Old To Die Young. A shimmering and classy affair, the new record is chock full of jazzy melodies, electronica soundscapes and tender piano ballads that will speak to anyone out there trying to make the best of life and live through times both good and bad.
Nazneen joined GIGsoup for an in-depth chat about each song on the new LP, which you can check out on Soundcloud below now. If you’re into Jessie Ware and Jordan Rakei’s elegant and sophisticated pop, this is for you…
1. Split Second
In March 2017, there was a terrorist attack at the seat of the UK government. I was there that day and wrote this song as we waited, for hours, until it was safe to go home. Such events remind us of the fragility of life. How everything can change in an instant. Musically, the song glides repetitively, punctuated by an unexpected chord held on each ‘split second’.
The gift of unexpected meetings with our mortality is to remind us of all we have. All that brings us meaning and joy, that makes us feel lucky to be alive. It is a priceless gift. But we throw it away like a Christmas cracker toy on Boxing Day. Why do we find it so hard to see what matters to us? The things flashing in neon on massive billboards all around us, in moments of fear. Split Second reminds me to STOP and take a moment. A split second. To cherish all I have today.
2. Midlife Musings
Do you ever look in the mirror and wonder: Am I living the life I want to live? We are all rushing to stand still. But to whose purpose? So many of us fall into our lives because we happened to be somewhere or with someone. We dream of what we will do tomorrow when things ease up, when we have more time or money.
But tomorrow never comes. We have to live our dreams today. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it, and together with the people that love and support us, we can do it! Midlife Musings is a song of steely encouragement to dream over, start over, paint over – live the life you are meant to live. With stylish production to give a timeless backdrop to this universal theme. It is the lead single for the album.
3. Did You Sleep Well
Do you wake up in the middle of the night worrying about all you did and didn’t do that day, all the things you wished you had and hadn’t said? Going around and around in circles. Of course you do. We all do. We know it’s futile, it won’t help, and the anxieties will soon pass, if only to be replaced by new ones. I don’t have a miracle cure. But music brings me calm. When I make music, I am in the zone, fully focused on just that. I get lost in it and it nourishes me.
Did You Sleep Well reminds me to ‘get over myself’, to forget about the pettiness of today and keep my eyes on what is important. It also makes me smile; I had such fun recording the counting. And I’m so happy I could sneak in a tribute to Garbage’s ‘Stupid Girl’.
4. Ain’t No Love Like This
There are so many songs about love, but so few about parental love. This is a song about the pains and pleasures of parenthood. I’ve had opportunities to do many things that are rewarding, fun and useful. But being a parent has been my most fulfilling role. Not that it’s always easy! But challenge and sacrifice are integral to true fulfilment, aren’t they?Musically, Ain’t No Love Like This is unashamedly a crowd-pleasing pop song. For every generation.
5. Can I Be Saved
We all need hope. Even if it is to hope that everything stays the same when life is going well. When we feel hopeless life unravels fast and we can cycle into despair. Sometimes we find our way out, but often it is our loved ones that help us back. And it is hard on them – to see us hurting, to want us to see ourselves through their eyes. Can I Be Saved is a song for those in need of saving and those that save. Most of us have been both. It is not an easy listen but I hope it rewards deeper attention. The verses are darkly oppressive; the choruses bring light. Sometimes I listen to this song and it feels more hopeful than hopeless. Sometimes it’s the reverse. I wonder how you will find it?
6. Done Undone
Relationships are hard! One benefit of getting older is that we have all messed up. We have all sinned and been sinned against. We have all needed to ask for forgiveness, and we all know it is easier to ask for than to give. But we have to know how to forgive. Truly forgive. It’s easy to win arguments, but the cost of victory can be high. Done Undone is the story of a pivotal moment in a relationship when a couple have to decide if they will forgive each other and continue their journey together. The production is complex, multi-layered and unsettling. I had broken middle C on my piano when I wrote it – a constraint that proved inspiring.
7. On the Road Again
All of us have an area of our lives where we feel an outsider. It hurts. It feels unfair and like we have no way to change it. Being an ethnic minority can feel like this. Today’s world is not very welcoming, even if you were born in the country where you are a minority and know no other home. But we must stand proud and stay true to our values and have faith that justice and fairness will prevail. On the Road Again is a song of solidarity with all ‘outsiders’ and a reminder we have to live by and stand up for our values. I wanted it to have the shuddery, remorseless beat of a train that never stops and used multi-layered vocals and melodic progression to give an air of defiance.
8. Fake News
It would be easy to assume fake news is a modern problem, but it has always been with us. And not only from governments and corporations. We are all peddlers of self-serving narratives, particularly in relationship breakdowns, when we cling to our versions of ‘the truth’. As we get older, we realise so little is black and white, and this helps us to be more understanding, more pragmatic, less didactic. That should be our aim at least! Fake News is an understated, ambiguous song addressing public and personal ways the truth can become slippery in our ears and mouths. It reminds me to be more understanding and more open to other viewpoints.
9. Calling All the Shots
It has never been easier to have a voice. We can share our opinions effortlessly. But it takes courage, because it’s brutal out there. If you put your head above the parapet, it will get hammered. But we have to do it, because doing nothing is still a stand. Are you happy with what your inaction is saying? So, we must be courageous. We will find others that share our vision for the world and together we can make a difference. The whisper of crowds is heard.
Calling All the Shots is a collective call to action, with latin and jazzy vibes, to help us get on our feet!
10. I’m Too Old to Die Young
There is a quote from Ann Landers that I love: “At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.” A gift of aging is moving from living a life dictated by external opinions and circumstances to a life driven by our own opinions, based on recognition and acceptance of our strengths and weakness. We are human; we are mortal, and it’s fine. Because if you are too old to die young, you are one of the lucky ones. Every day is a gift. I’m Too Old to Die Young is a jubilant, brassy, in-your-face, I’m-living-my-life-deal-with-it song. I turn to it in moments of celebration or doubt. It always lifts me.