First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2006, Volume 13, #7
Written by Kirk deCordova
Those unfamiliar with Nerina Pallot ó pronounced "Ne-ree-nah Pall-o" ó probably arenít alone. Pallotís career was launched in 2001 with the release of her debut album, the under-appreciated Dear Frustrated Superstar, though it stalled almost as soon as it began. While mulling over her options, which included becoming an English teacher, the gifted Pallot fortunately chose to continue singing and writing songs. These efforts culminated in her sophomore effort Fires, which initially was issued in 2005. After falling upon deaf ears, the outing has been re-mastered and repackaged by a new label, and subsequently, itís being given a fresh marketing push. Throughout the affair, Pallot brings much to the table including a versatile and pleasing voice, inventive melodies, and thoughtful lyrics that are sprinkled liberally with philosophical allusions. Blending folk, rock, and pop into a shiny package, she offers vocals that are reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, Sheryl Crow, Paul Simon, and Carole King. Nevertheless, although she has been influenced by some of musicís greatest artists, she still retains a sparkling and sarcastic wit as well as an intelligence that brands her work as refreshingly original.
Whether featuring guitar or demonstrating intricate piano styling, Fires is packed to the brim with elegant and, at times, playful tracks. The album begins with the politically minded rocker Everybodyís Gone to War, a 1960s- style protest song that boasts such pointed lyrics as:
"Iíve got a friend, heís a pure-bred killing machine,
He says heís waited his whole damn life for this,
I knew him well when he was seventeen,
Now heís a man heíll be dead by Christmas."
Throughout Fires, Pallot ruminates upon an array of topics and emotions that include expressions of life, death, depression, joy, loneliness, regret, and self-examination, all of which are delivered with a serious yet whimsical attitude. Some songs of note on the album include the lyrical masterpiece Damascus, and the wonderfully orchestrated and haunting Idaho, the latter of which features the lyrics:
"I canít be anyone but meÖ
And I canít keep dreaming that Iím freeÖ
I donít want to fall asleep and watch my life from fifty feet,
My hands are on the wheel so Iím driving to Idaho,
Cause I hear itís mighty prettyÖin Idaho"
The song that may prove to be the gem of Fires, however, is the simply produced and introspective Mr. King. This philosophical track is drenched with the influences of Paul Simon and Paul McCartney, and itís a delightful excursion that gains resonance the more that it is heard. Elsewhere, Pallotís wit is on display during the comical and infectious Geek Love, a tongue-in-cheek popper with a bouncing, carnival-esque lilt. Equally intriguing is Sophia, a ballad of desperate, burning, and unfilled love that has become a highlight of her concerts as she confesses:
"Sophia, Sophia, Iím burning, Iím burning,
Itís a fire, a fire I cannot put out,
Sophia, Sophia Iím learning that some things I canít go without,
And one of those is him."
In fact, the only weak song on Fires is the shallow pop of All Good People, but even though it doesnít measure up to the brilliance of the rest of the affair, its melody is not one that is easily forgotten. In the end, Pallot is a gifted and talented artist who deserves to replicate her U.K. success in other markets around the globe. Her intelligence, her wit, her purposeful lyrics, and her exceptional melodies all combine to make Fires a must-buy outing for fans of thoughtful pop.
Fires is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box