Follow Us on Twitter

Nerina Pallot – Year of the Wolf

Nerina Pallot, Year of the Wolf

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HAS Nerina Pallot just delivered her best, most accessible album to date? Perhaps… And the irony is, she wrote and recorded most of it while pregnant!

Word play aside, Year of the Wolf is a genuinely classy offering from a performer who is no stranger to acclaim. Having always been on the cusp of [deserved] mainstream adoration, her latest album deserves to firmly place her within its warm grasp.

Year of the Wolf was produced with Britpop guitar legend Bernard Butler and runs the gamut of Nerina’s love of euphoric pop songs with big heart-bursting choruses. But it also drops in a couple of telling ballads, as well as a subtle retro vibe that’s similar to some of Duffy’s early work.

Butler’s influence is evident throughout… the polished beats, the strings element, the retro vibe. But it works a treat.

And the standard is set from the beginning, with former single Put Your Hands Up underlining Pallot’s passion for euphoric pop. This one has a cracking bass, a sweeping string section, a drop-dead sexy husky vocal that gives rise to a bittersweet beauty and one of the most addictive choruses of the year.

The sexiness is maintained vocally on Turn Me On Again, a track on which a gritty guitar riff waltzes playfully with more strings at several points, before allowing Pallot’s silky vocals to take centre-stage during the verses.

And there’s a disarming innocence to Pallot’s delivery on All Bets Are Off, which once again drops a vaguely retro vibe and a bittersweet vibe that mixes more beautiful string arrangements over a melancholy lament on how it feels to have a heart broken.

That sense of loss is carried into the stripped back and achingly simple If I Lost You Now, a song that provides further compelling evidence of Pallot’s ability to deliver a telling ballad. The honesty and intelligence in the lyrics is striking.

But she doesn’t dwell… Butterfly immediately re-ignites the tempo with a cracking guitar riff, a brilliant foot-stomping beat and a more optimistic vocal. It sets your heart a flutter.

This Will Be Our Year slows the tempo back down but soothes with its defiant optimism, while I Think opens with a playful reference to childhood innocence and potential before dropping in a marching band style beat and more striking melodies.

And, later on, Grace disarms in dusky folk-soul style… a bluesy guitar initially guiding listeners on a quietly hypnotic journey that finds Pallot at her most haunted, before some subtle strings and a harmonica usher the song to a close. It’s a great change of pace that really does take the breath away.

If the final track, History Boys, can’t quite match it to deliver the finale the album really deserves, it’s no small criticism for this is a masterful creation that once again serves brilliant notice of Pallot’s exceptional talent.

Download picks: Put Your Hands Up, All Bets Are Off, Grace, Butterfly, Turn Me On Again, I Think

Track listing:

  1. Put Your Hands Up
  2. Turn Me On Again
  3. All Bets Are Off
  4. If I Lost You Now
  5. Butterfly
  6. This Will Be Our Year
  7. I Think
  8. Will You Still Love Me
  9. I Do Not Want What I Do Not Have
  10. Grace
  11. History Boys