Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Nerina Pallot - Year Of The Wolf
When looking to the long lost past it's oh so easy to fall into the trap of becoming a cheesy pastiche. But when things go right, the results can sound so thoroughly authentic they could quite easily sit alongside the originals.
And such can be said of Nerina Pallot's fourth album Year Of The Wolf - a dreamy, wonderful record that mines deep into the sounds of the 60s and 70s. And the real joy is that it works so well because it manages to keep that air of authenticity intact while underpinning it with all the contemporary pop production you'd expect from a songwriter of Pallot's calibre.
Put Your Hands Up is an inspired opener to the record, and quite simply one of the best pop tracks of the year. Here, as with the majority of the songs on the album, Nerina's vocals remain the focal point - in this instance starting off sultry and hushed, but transforming in an instant into a powerhouse Dionne Warwick-esque performance. Put Your Hands Up revolves in such an inherent sense of soulfulness that you can't help but feel head over heels in love with its chorus.
Buzzing with producer Bernard Butler's guitars (him of Suede and Duffy fame), the track brings to mind the timeless charms of the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction, but here dolled up with Pallot's charm - pushing every bit of the unadulterated joy the song's title reflects.
Those punches of guitar are something of a recurring theme on Year Of The Wolf, and while the album always feels effortlessly cool and chilled-out, it still manages to find time to let loose in moments like these. Perhaps it's testament to Nerina lending her songwriting talents to a certain Kylie Minogue recently (she co-wrote Better Than Today and Aphrodite from the Australian songstress's most recent album), but there's a distinct bouncy happiness stamped across the album's upbeat tracks, and the record is all the better for it. This is a fun record, and never is that emphasised more than on the ELO styled I Think, a personal favourite of mine.
One word to sum up the album? Rich. And not just Nerina's honeyed vocals, but also the swirling, chocolatey depths of the tracks themselves. Whether its the reverb-heavy guitar of If I Lost You Now, which shimmers like a Tarantino movie soundtrack - or the delicate harp outro of All Bets Are Off - the album never ceases to surprise with its intricacy.
I'm reminded of *those* supermarket adverts, you know the ones... You see, this isn't just a good album, but it's a good Nerina Pallot album - and that's something that lifts it to another level of greatness.
In a year where female singer-songwriters have been ten-a-penny, Nerina more than holds her own. Songs like This Will Be Our Year or Will You Still Love Me are the kind of track that could easily appear on an Adele album; but where Adele is all about forceful and brazen passion in her delivery, Nerina affects her songs with a far more delicate tint. There's a cute almost-shyness to the album which serves to give it so much more tenderness.
Another personal highlight of mine is Butterfly, the album's most guitar-orientated track. With a melody that recalls David Bowie's Heroes, it conjures up images of endless American highways that stretch away across the plains. Here, like so many tracks on Year Of The Wolf, Nerina's personality shines through so well - something that so many singers, no matter how technically accomplished they might be, struggle with.
This album sees Pallot re-signing with a major label, and with Put Your Hands Up already becoming a sizeable airplay hit, Year Of The Wolf deserves every bit of the critical acclaim it has already received. Go out and buy it - because overlooking such a pop gem as this would be quite frankly criminal.
Year Of The Wolf is available to download now.