Jonathan: I do miss The Word magazine! For me – and I suspect many others, of my generation especially – it helped re-ignite the love of music, the hunger for diversity and originality. The magazine’s cover CD was an eagerly awaited invitation to audition new music, new artists, some of which I’ve gone on to support by buying albums. One such is Nerina Pallot, whose song Idaho was featured on The Word CD about ten years ago. I love this song – it’s such a powerful expression of the hope one feels in breaking free of a broken, or at least dysfunctional life, and starting over somewhere else, where you feel you’ll be understood better, and have the opportunities to discover yourself – and discover others. About five years ago I was listening to this song when there was a knock on the door: customers wanting to buy lemon curd … and they were from Idaho!
Idaho was never released as a single, but Damascus – also on her album Fires – was. Even those with no interest in Christianity will probably understand the common thread here: re-awakening, transformation, hope of redemption … But these are not religious songs, they are just about what it means to be human. For this song is not about finding anything, it’s a wail of despair and resignation at the failure to find anything at all on the road to Damascus.
At her best, Nerina Pallot is really a great song-writer, and a wonderful singer and performer too. But she’s not comfortable with fame and touring, and doesn’t produce hits to order. It’s difficult for her to fill an album with songs all of the quality of Damascus, Idaho and Sophia, and I’ve noticed I tend to switch off (sometimes literally) before the last few songs of the album. I’ll probably not buy another of her albums, but I’m glad to have got to know this one, and glad that there ever was such a thing as The Word magazine!