It’s quite impossible to dislike Paloma Faith. The eccentric red-headed siren gives off a child-like nature, but has an intense intelligence behind her twinkling eyes, and her style makes her stand out in a sea of unoriginality. She seems to effervesce a kind-nature, backed up with a talent for writing original songs that can sound from retro to futuristic. With all the effort she puts in to be different, does new album A Perfect Contradiction live up to her own standards?
With Pharrell Williams getting his superstar mitts on the producing duties, it was obvious there was going to be some new influences on this record. The album opener provides them straight away, with Can’t Rely on You kicking in with an instant resemblance to another classic track Pharrell has helped out on before, Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. The resemblance is fleeting however, and it evolves into a soul-stomping, Northern Soul sampling piece of genius. Followed by a Michael Jackson 80s era-sounding track, Mouth to Mouth is more poppy than Paloma has dared before, but she really pulls it off with some lyrics talking about her other love; style and fashion: “Put on your crisp white shirt, I’ll wear a bright red skirt”.
The album is clever in how it pushes and pulls you through different eras in music. One minute you’re listening to songs such as Taste My Own Tears which transports you back to dancehalls in the 60s, then the next minute she has thrust you right back to the present day with Impossible Heart; a clubby, synth-laden sound with pop connotations.
Paloma’s vocals are, as ever, completely on form. A professional throughout, closing track It’s Not Knowing is probably the best use of her talent from a voice perspective, but the album is also littered with British accent speaking parts that really help with the records originality. Trouble With My Baby is an example of this, recorded live and improvised from a kitchen.
It’s not all new and different for Paloma however, for those of you still loving her retro feel we are treated to tracks such as Take Me, with its Otis Redding feel, and cheeky nature that only Paloma can get away with; from anyone else they would feel labored: “7am and the sun is up, I need someone just to feel my cup”.
With all this difference and mayhem going on throughout, it’s very difficult to keep the album together. Paloma just about manages to do this however, with the record only feeling disjointed and lop-sided in a couple of areas. It is a testament to her talent for singing and songwriting, and with her and Pharell joining voices on A Perfect Contradiction, it was bound to turn out great, which it definitely is.