In a parallel universe, Nerina Pallot would be quite content as a nun, a painter or an astronaut, but an early encounter with a piano at the age of four changed all that. A subsequent incident at the age of 11, involving a Bon Jovi record and her mum’s copy of Tapestry (plus a cheap guitar courtesy of Woolworth’s), confirmed in this geeky little anorak girl that her sole ambition in life was to be a world class songwriter and musician. Okay, so when her friend’s weren’t looking she’d spend the odd hour or three playing Bach and Mozart ‘til her fingers went numb and drove her classical-music-loathing folks crazy with her 12 year old operatic diva renditions but really her heart was sworn to classic pop.
However, growing up on an island where the most exciting gig of the year was the Nolan Sisters has its drawbacks and it wasn’t long before she got packed off to school in leafy Berkshire, going there to study on a music scholarship. This coincided directly with her latest and non-music related discovery - boys. She swapped her specs for contacts, her bunches for highlights and her braces for eyeliner and…………. it was a bit disastrous. But, broken hearts and stiff upper lip aside, it was her music that came to the rescue and around the age of 17 she started writing intensively, all pretty dirge, navel-gazing stuff, so she made her first demo tape with a fellow school friend and arty type.
It was this same demo tape that got Nerina her first manager at 19, while at art school in London. There, instead of learning to paint exquisitely, she perfect the art of blowing smoke rings, played keyboards in a south London reggae band and listened to Woodface approximately 3 times a day every day for a year. She would then go on to make the odd appearance at music college, in between singing on the occasion (and always appalling) radio jingle, a brief development deal with EMI and various little jobs along the way.
One day, Nerina was so sick so being perpetually broke that she even decided to get a proper job working in the publishing department of Mute Records. During this time, she acquired a taste for Diamanda Galas, but only in broad daylight, and a healthy disrespect for big corporations. Nevertheless, although the roster was almighty cool, it was still the Beatles that got her out of bed in the morning and Joni who got her to sleep at night. It wasn’t the style of these records, the sound or the sight of them, it was the songs.
And so, she went into the studio with some songs of her own. She doesn’t care about a particular style, or fitting a format, or being cool. If something sounds retro then that’s what it is, if it sounds hip then that’s fine. If it’s a 50-piece orchestra or a banjo playing, it doesn’t matter - it’s where the music is coming from, it’s whether it has heart. The result? Dear Frustrated Superstar, a truly outstanding debut album that positively bursts with heart. Just listen…..