There have been two great-with-a-capital-G songs written about Brexit; ‘The Fall Of Home’ from Los Campesinos’s bafflingly overlooked Sick Scenes, and now ‘Jolly Sailor’, the poignant punk-ballad which closes Nadine Shah’s new album Holiday Destination. The title was inspired by a pub from Shah’s childhood home in the North-East of England, and ‘Jolly Sailor’ tackles the condescending, classist archetypes projected onto Leave voters in poor, post-industrial areas of the UK. It’s a song of both common compassion and intellectual erudition that never patronises or estranges the listener, and one which encapsulates Holiday Destination’s cogence and balance.

Shah’s stated that she wants to be “Stevie Wonder political,” rather than “Billy Bragg-political”; designating her polemic as sewn in the fabric of the music rather than worn on its sleeve, where her music and stories inspire politics rather than the inverse. She’s eminently successful. ‘Place Like This’, ‘Evil’ and the title track wrestle lucidly with the refugee crisis and our contorted response to it; though tinged with subversive outrage towards the media and political class who dehumanise them and mislead the public, these songs are focussed on the stories – often extracted from first hand refugee accounts – of the dehumanised and displaced, mapping and signalling their emotional lives and agency as fucking people. By conveying herself as either a narrator or allusive observer, she foregoes the minefield of sentimentality; direct but never heavy-handed, this model of subtlety affords not just grace and depth to her lyrics, but also a welcoming access point. The only requisite for appreciating Holiday Destination is that you care about what’s happening.

Eschewing Billy Braggadocio also liberates the tone and tempo of Holiday Destination’s instrumentation from the solemnity of the subject matter. On ‘Place Like This,’ that upbeat pulse is fulfilled by grinning strings and an erratic electric guitar, with through lines of 60s R&B. That it fades out on audio of a Refugees Welcome protest – with the refrain “Say it loud and say it clear/ Refugees are welcome here” – isn’t a discordant shift; while protests and direct action are logistically serious by predisposition, it’s often disguised how fun and uplifting they are to participate in. They arouse a collective mood of community and solidarity, and Holiday Destination wonderfully invokes this vivacity. This isn’t a record you spin in static, nodding soberly; it’s stirring, energising, purposeful, a protest album which prompts active protest. You dance to it, march to it, save the world to it.

This is facilitated by the album’s impulsive kineticism; offering Peter Wareham’s manic saxophone, pressing percussion, and gnashing synthesisers, all diverging and ravenous. Shah’s production has always been piercing – as if it furtively skips studio polish – but it’s now truly restless, deploying post punk and new wave foundations across the razored ‘Evil’ and magnificent ‘Out The Way’, while echoes of the ghost of political-folk past bristle in the wearied ‘2016’ and ‘Jolly Sailor’. When she draws in and pursues melody, as on the immutably moving ‘Mother Fighter’ or the brooding ‘Yes Men’, it’s effectively jarring; an empowering patronage and fearless staredown respectively. There’s so much in play, yet they amicably weave around the crux of anger and kindness.

is musically rich, but its greatest triumph is its concord of convenience and intellect. In harmonising an informed acumen with empathy and hope, Nadine Shah has released the most accomplished, accessible, and important protest album of the year.