Nerina Pallot – Fires
Nerina Pallot is a Jersey born, North London living, Arsenal supporting (she does have her faults!) singer songwriter. And a rather impressive one at that. I’ve seen her twice before, and already reviewed her latest album The Graduate. It’s been a few years since I last saw her and, alas, I was rather excited to here the announcement of her latest tour with a special gig at Union Chapel, London, on April 28th.
Combining my excitement for next Wednesday with the voice in my head nagging me to write something productive, I’ve decided to review Fires, Pallot’s second album.
It starts with her biggest hit. Everybody’s Gone To War can probably be described as one of the most literal songs that Pallot’s ever penned. (Oh, on a side note, Pallot’s been busy sharing her song-writing talents of late, writing for Diana Vickers, but, more importantly, writing for Kylie Minogue including the title track of her new album!) It’s a bit political –which I like. “If love is a drug/I guess we’re all sober” which later progresses to become “If God’s on our side then God is a Joker/Asleep on the job his children fall over”. Her use of metaphor is incredible. So simple, and yet so powerful. And how does it end? With the scarily simple line “I’ve got a friend who’s a pure bread killing machine/I think he might be dead by Christmas”. Truly thought provoking.
Pallot often writes about the most mundane things, turning them into something of beauty. In Halfway Home this is evident – “I’ve got a quarter in my pocket of an apple left to eat”. I love the vocals on the chorus. They sound so effortless, and yet they are sung in a key that I would be scared to ever attempt.
Next up come two songs of outstanding quality: Damascus and Idaho both flow with beautiful narratives that sound so heartfelt. The former sounds harsher, with the odd expletive thrown in for effect. And it works, so I’m not complaining. The latter has an incredibly catchy piano intro that immediately tells you it’s going to be something sublime.
I’ll gloss over Learning To Breathe – it’s not that I don’t like it. I do. I just think Pallot has a lot of better songs.
I never really liked Mr King until I saw it on one of Pallot’s Monday night live streamed shows. It changed the song for me. The simplicity of the guitar combined with the direct vocals just suddenly clicked for me. Whoever this ‘Mr King’ is, I hope he is impressed with this piece of art. It’s beautiful.
Geek Love. What a song. I’ve not listened to it much of late. But wow. It’s my favourite Pallot track. It’s also my friend Bryony’s favourite track (she’s even got herself a Geek Love tshirt). We’re both hoping it’ll make an appearance next week. I’m not sure what it is about this song. The lyrics to the verses and the chorus are so perfectly written for the mood of the music and the many messages of the song. It’s even got a bit that repeats the word “grey”. Three times. I love grey. But I love Geek Love more.
The piano in Sophia makes the song. Sure, the metaphors of the “fire escape symphony” are very clever. But it’s the piano that makes it haunting in places. It carries the lyrics along. I just can’t see it working with any other instrument as well as it does with just the vocals and the piano.
All Good People is a song that never stood out for me. The album version sounds a little too electronic for my liking, however live performances are far more favourable. It’s the same with Heart Attack. It’s just not my favourite style of Pallot’s.
Ending with Nickindia, Pallot returns to her more simplistic style. Her vocals shine this way. There’s a “ooh” that I love. It hits several notes that (despite many, many attempts) I just cannot hit. It’s slow paced, and it just works.
I’m sorry for the empty adjectives that I’ve used throughout this piece. If you wanted, I could write even more about each track. But even those of you who’ve made it this far would probably draw a line at a word-by-word analysis of each song! So I’ll leave you with one word to describe Fires: Beautiful.