Paloma Faith’s Fall to Grace is out in the States on December 4, shiny as a new penny or Paloma’s own coppery mane. Too bad. A little dirt would do this penny some good.
The woman herself presents an intriguing package. Unusual-but-strikingly good looks, often coiffed like a classic Hollywood starlet. A gutsy belt. A knack for dramatic costume and passionate performances. The problem is, however much of this is organic Paloma, it feels a lot like a generic blend of the last batch of Brit bombshells. Right down to the last song on this record, no molds are broken. In fact, no boundaries are even lightly prodded. The arrangements are nice enough and the tunes are certainly polished, but the whole thing is fully ignorable like a good soundtrack for shopping at Anthropologie. “Agony” is the only special-seeming track with a nice beat and a chorus that experiments just a hair more than the rest of the record.
There should be some space in the American market for Paloma’s schtick. Maybe the little gap left open by Amy Winehouse’s unfortunate departure and Adele’s pregnancy leave could be enough for Ms. Faith to properly wiggle through. She is not without talent. But unlike the last British invader-ess – Ms. Florence Welch and her formidable Machine – Faith’s stylistic bent is just enough behind trend to walk a tenuous tightrope. After a full year of incessant radioplay for “Someone Like You,” there’s bound to be little patience left for torch singers that don’t slay.
Or perhaps not. If The Voice’s success is some indication, perhaps we will never tire of watching ladies belt. Ms. Faith can handle a stage a million percent better than Lana del Ray on her best day. Maybe if given the chance, Paloma can win us over on national TV. But until that fateful day, Fall to Grace seems just glossy enough to gloss right over.