Nerina Pallot has English, French and Indian blood in her. When it comes to her musical influences, however, it's American all the way - most obviously, the adult, mid-tempo pop of Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon. Her debut album shows that she's learnt her craft well, featuring heartfelt protest songs as well as mature reflections on matters of the heart. The melodies are sturdy, the narratives are engaging and Pallot's lilting vocals are certainly easy on the ear. The only problem is, it's all a little too polished for its own good - even when she's in confessional mode, her lyrics have a calculating quality that's ultimately off-putting. You get the feeling that she's spent so much time studying her heroes, she's forgotten that she has a personality of her own. Fires is by no means a bad album. It's just not an easy one to love.