By Nerina Pallot
The third single from Pallot's quietly yet warmly received Fires reiterates the songstress' essential life-affirming message as conveyed through her lyrics of self-doubt and perseverance coupled with the magical musical arrangements.
The deceptive introduction takes the treading on eggshells approach as one momentarily fears of Pallot straying into the territory of monotonous sameness. However, the singer-songwriter shows her lyricism progressing with each release 'It takes strength and it takes courage to survive' as Pallot is not afraid to confront the unspoken torments of real life. 'Well I've seen some things but not all of them came true' is aptly accompanied by a gradual upping of the tempo as a growing woman accepts that life is no fairytale.
Pallot's unique vocal style and sweeping musical arrangements are once again highlighted in the soaring chorus of Learning to Breathe. Pallot sings of all of our secret hopes and fears 'So I don't want to be the last, don't want to be the first / Don't want to be alone with my thoughts tomorrow' as she focuses on the inherent flaws of the human race: nobody wants to lead, no-one wants to be led and above all, we don't want to confront our thoughts which form ourselves.
An admirable element of the song is that it is anything but anti-climactic as Pallot asks of us all, with lesser musical accompaniment 'Just a speck of life on an ocean wave / Does it pull us all?'. Perhaps a play on the popular proverb "Just a drop in the ocean" as we all feel like our contribution is wasted e.g. in education when there's always a cleverer student and in the workplace where someone else always pips you to the post. A reflection is allowed for after the cathartic moment of confrontation, refreshing in this age of fast-paced, emotionless music.
A songwriter with a soul: discard your cum-stained drainpipes and engage with emotion.