Paloma Faith, Fall To Grace, Sony Music Media
It’s been three years since the release of Paloma Faith’s debut album Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?, the album which blessed an unsuspecting public with ‘Stone Cold Sober’ and ‘Upside Down’. These were powerful songs which bore tribute to Faith’s eccentricity in terms of both her character and her storytelling prowess. Now, teamed with producer Nellee Hooper (Bjork, No Doubt, Massive Attack), the tangerine-locked starlet has released Fall to Grace – her second studio album of confessional songs which showcase a more mature sound.
Fall to Grace has some belters, including first single ‘Picking up the Pieces’ which has become Faith’s highest charting song to date. Unlike in her previous hit ‘New York’, the paramour to Faith’s lover is not a city but literally, as the singer spells out, “she’s the other woman”. Sadly, it is this tendency to spoon-feed her audience which crops up frequently throughout Faith’s album.
’30 Minute Love Affair’ is a song about Faith’s experience singing on the street with a busker, and though it may seem a little flat on the first listen, it is a definite grower – after the third or forth listen it will stick in your mind for a duration much longer than that evoked by the song’s title. Other notable mentions are ‘Agony’ – withs its dance beat and chorus not dissimilar to The Killer‘s ‘Mr Brightside’ – and the upbeat ‘Freedom’, which could be a definite summer anthem. Faith’s voice is by far the best thing on the album, and it is in ‘Streets of Glory’ and ‘Beauty of the End’ in which her vocal ability truly shines, blowing Adele clean out of the water.
However, Faith’s earnest assertion in ‘Beauty of the End’ that “falling never hurts but landing does” encapsulates the whole feel of the album. Fall to Grace is full of platitudes of this nature, most visible in the social commentaries which pepper the lyrics of ‘Black and Blue’, or the line from ‘Let Your Love Walk In’ which may have been more suited to the “emo” character Faith played in St Trinian’s: “And though I’m in a crowded room, but I feel lonely now.” It is in this sense which an otherwise commendable album fails: songs which are psuedo-emotional but somehow lack substance.
Fall to Grace is full of that ballad-esque, soulful sound, somewhat lacking in lyrical complexity, that has found its place in contemporary pop-music. Not exactly boring – but not gripping either. It isn’t too hard to picture someone covering these tracks on The Voice or The X-Factor in a couple of years – which is testament to their power, but not their magic.
Though the progression from the brazen ballads of Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? to this album of polished and slightly predictable offerings is not groundbreaking or even very substantial, it is a ‘graceful’ progression nonetheless. What Faith has achieved is as refined and engaging as it is formulaic, and though the album sadly lacks the spark we have come to associate with Paloma Faith and her producer, Fall to Grace is likely to climb the charts and stay there for quite some time.