tue 25/04/2017

CD: Paloma Faith - A Perfect Contradiction | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Paloma Faith - A Perfect Contradiction

CD: Paloma Faith - A Perfect Contradiction

Unspectacular third effort fails to stand out from the crowd

The real problem is that Faith herself seems to have forgotten what she sounds like
The Big Lovelorn Cliche Songbook: Paloma Faith's 'A Perfect Contradiction'

For better or worse, it’s not enough these days to be a perfectly serviceable pop singer. With Saturday night TV shows churning them out by the dozen, you need more than an attractive face and an ability to hit the right notes to stand out. With her brassy voice and purposefully idiosyncratic looks Paloma Faith, who herself will shortly be mentoring a musician as part of yet another nationwide talent search, always seemed like somebody doing her own thing - it’s just a shame that doesn’t come across on her third album, A Perfect Contradiction.

While this may be to do with the lengthy cast of supporting characters contributing production and songwriting to these 11 tracks - Pharrell Williams, Diane Warren, Plan B, John Legend and Raphael Saadiq are all name-checked, and that’s only the first half - the real problem is that Faith herself seems to have forgotten what she sounds like. Williams’s chart-topping neo-soul should be the perfect fit for Faith’s vocals, but first single and opening track “Can’t Rely on You” sounds like a karaoke tribute to Robin Thicke’s Williams-featuring “Blurred Lines” dressed up as an empowerment anthem. And yet, a few listens down the line, it’s probably the most recognisable thing on an album which is basically Paloma Faith Sings The Big Lovelorn Cliche Songbook, but with little in the way of conviction.

Sure, the first few tracks are generic, hyper-sexualised party songs, but the Warren-penned “Only Love Can Hurt Like This” marks a change in pace that the album never quite recovers from. It wouldn’t necessarily be a problem: the song itself has a classy '60s girl group vibe, and sung by somebody like the much-missed Amy Winehouse with the lungs and the world-weary presence to carry it would be as much of a wrench as the best of the Shangri-Las. But paired with Faith’s noncommittal delivery and the same big beats as half of the iTunes Top 10, you’ll be rolling your eyes by the time Paloma proclaims that she too has an “impossible heart” that won’t save her.

Overleaf: watch the video for Pharrell Williams-produced single, "Can't Rely On You"


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