Due to her small frame, tentative nature, and East London accent, one would be forgiven for not expecting Paloma Faith to be the powerhouse of a singer she is. But how wrong they would be. Always producing music that contrasts with this tentative persona, Paloma Faith provides an exemplary example of how to be a hugely successful pop star while remaining grounded and relatable. Her musical journey started early, frequenting world-famous jazz club Ronnie Scott’s in West London with her father as a child.
Now as an artist herself, Faith is still on this musical journey, with every new album she produces arguably bettering the last. Album number five, Infinite Things, is no exception, and represents an advancement in her maturity as an artist; a feat that is all the more impressive given that she recorded the vocals herself in a basement using coats to absorb the sound. Although still a pop-sounding album, the maturity lends itself to a sense of sombreness felt throughout the album, personified by the black-and-white cover depicting Faith in a funeral veil. This negative aura is also heard in Faith’s lyrics, with If This is Goodbye opening with the harrowing lyric ‘I hurt myself’ and later ‘I surrender and I hate this’ is heard. As a confessional song about repeated mistakes, Falling Down continues this theme and even argues the cynical idea that falling in love is just ‘falling down,’ while there’s a sadness in the album’s title track, in which the singer expresses the feeling that she is not good enough.
This solemnity adds to the sense of grandeur of the album provided by the slick production which showcases the best of modern music-making methods, combining computer samples and human musicians, with string sections featuring heavily throughout the album. Amalgamating this ‘big’ sound and Faith’s vocal style may draw comparisons with the great Sia. I would find it impossible to say Faith is in quite the same league as one of the greatest singers in popular music, but her skill as a musical alchemist, mixing melodies, vocal phrasing, and lyrical rhyming to create catchy yet intensely evocative music is phenomenal. This ability is best heard in the album’s lead single Better Than This, which instantly hooked me.
The album’s second single Gold is more traditional Paloma Faith pop and even finds the listener committing to the cautious optimism that comes with the line ‘I’ve got a feeling that tonight is on my side.’ It is the production that stands out in Supernatural. At the heart of the opening track is an intoxicating kick drum, which blends well with subtle vocal layering. The song even features a killer guitar solo that would actually benefit from being more prominent in the mix. Monster offers a masterclass in songwriting and arrangement, with catchy one-liners repeated in a low register building the song up until it explodes quickly into a chorus with Faith singing in a much higher register, representing a catharsis used to let out the dark emotions expressed in the song.
A fantastic-sounding album, Infinite Things caters to both existing and new Paloma Faith fans alike. As for myself, count me in as an official Paloma Faith convert.