Paloma Faith's 'Fall To Grace' Is A Keeper | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Paloma Faith's 'Fall To Grace' Is A Keeper

Play associated audio

In culling through albums released late last year that I still play with pleasure, Paloma Faith's Fall to Grace was a real keeper. In contrast to my joy, Faith was singing about her agony: her broken heart, her wracked sobs about ruined affairs, her choked goodbyes to lovers who'd left her. She made all this sound tremendously intense and exciting. Not for nothing did she title her previous album Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?

Throughout Fall to Grace, Paloma Faith surrounds her surging voice with grand, vaulting structures of sound, lush orchestrations that, at their best, don't smother her voice. It's no wonder that she's found fans in older artists such as Elton John, with whom she recorded a charity single. Faith sometimes reminds me of Bryan Ferry, another singer who likes to stand tremulous in the presence of both heartache and elaborate arrangements, singing with an urgency that would sound campy were it not so convincingly sincere.

As an actress, Faith has appeared in the Terry Gilliam film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. In her music, she enacts scenarios of contrasts — the lonely girl; the woman who's found what she thinks, hopes, prays may be her soulmate. For all her pop-star ambition, Faith convinces you how much she yearns for homebody stability in one of the best songs on this album, "Just Be." Mostly just the sound of Faith's voice and a piano, she implores the person she adores to "just say nothing, just sit next to me ... just be." The rare simplicity of the arrangement and the starkness of the words and the tone she uses to put them across is striking.

Inevitably, as a young white female British singer with R&B and classic pop influences, Faith has been compared to Amy Winehouse and Adele. She falls somewhere in the middle of the two: less blood-and-guts soulful than Winehouse, while aspiring to the anthemic pose that Adele achieves with ease. On stage, she tends to dress very formally, with long brocaded dresses; when she appeared on David Letterman's show, her hair was done up as though she planned to go uptown to attend the opera at Lincoln Center after the taping. If Paloma Faith can maintain the quality of the music she's making, she's going to have lots of fans following her every musical and social cue.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Vaccine Controversies Are As Social As They Are Medical

In writing her new book On Immunity, Eula Biss found that questions about vaccination touch on attitudes about environmentalism, citizenship and trust in the government.
NPR

Millennial Jews Embrace Keeping Kosher

According to a 2013 Pew Research Center study, nearly a fourth of millennial Jews are keeping kosher. That's almost twice the rate of their baby boomer parents.
NPR

GOP Candidate In Michigan's U.S. Senate Race Avoids Media

Michigan has an open seat because Democrat Carl Levin is retiring. GOP candidate Terri Lynn Land is running a low-key campaign. Democratic Rep. Gary Peters leads in polls, but the race is close.
NPR

Kids And Screen Time: Cutting Through The Static

One Los Angeles school is working technology into the learning process, while avoiding the traditional screen-time pitfalls.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.