2012’s Fall To Grace was a powerful follow-up to Paloma Faith’s debut album, Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? Featuring a consistent fusion of soft-rock, soul and R&B, it was poetically punchy with a big mix of sounds. Its lead single ‘Picking Up The Pieces’ was a distinctively epic song that felt unashamedly honest. The re-release of Fall To Grace included her cover of INXS’ Never Tear Us Apart (airing on a John Lewis advert), which was poignant and heavy with emotional honesty. Fall To Grace was of such a high quality, despite having such a varying in genre throughout the album.
Paloma Faith’s recent album, A Perfect Contradiction, is less of a contradiction and more of a mangled mess. The lead single, ‘Can’t Rely On You’ features the hallmarks of a typical soul song – a sonorous growl as Paloma hits the high notes, backing singers that say ‘come on!’, ‘alright!’ and ‘ow!’ every so often. She performed this track live on The Graham Norton Show in mid-February, giving a hammed-up and passionate karaoke-style performance. Listening to the album version, the song is merely another song with a continuous whooping song in the background. It’s overdone and uninspiring; it doesn’t stand out amidst the rest of the songs as ‘Picking Up The Pieces’ did for Fall To Grace.
The rest of the album reads as not even a tribute to other artists but as an imitation of other artists – a Duffy-like tremble to Paloma’s voice in ‘Taste My Own Tears’, an Amy Winehouse-like vibrato in ‘Trouble With My Baby’. In fact, it’s difficult to pinpoint a definite moment within this album that Paloma Faith doesn’t recognisably sound like somebody else. With such a well-demonstrated vocal sound and idiosyncratic voice structure of her own as shown in her previous works, it’s just not understandable why she would resort to simply replicating others now.
With a solid theme of 70s and 80s soul/funk, there is a little incoherence to the lyrical content and overall message of this album. Amidst the sad notes of love loss and desperate hopelessness, there is the sexually charged and frantic ‘Mouth to Mouth’ with the lyrics “just do it like we never met before”, which sticks out like a flowering cactus in a barren desert of despair.
There is no stand-out song beyond the lead single and it’s a shame that this unsurprising album will be lost in the lower end of the charts. Such a talented artist that Paloma Faith is, this album does not do her vibrant sound justice.