The Many Faces of Paloma
Considering the UK’s affinity for soul and retro singers like Adele, Amy Winehouse and Duffy, it should be no surprise that Paloma Faith is the next. Her newest album, A Perfect Contradiction, is a great mix of retro Motown, pop beats and a powerhouse voice. With the help from collaborators that include producer/singer Pharrell and Raphael Saadiq, Faith creates a reincarnation of the 50s and 60s soul era.
The first single for the album, “Can’t Rely On You,” has all the markings of a Pharrell Williams produced track: the opening four beat count, background vocals by Pharrell himself and the old-school vibe that has flooded his own singles of the past two years. “Can’t Rely On You” channels old-school Aretha in swag and style. “I just can’t rely on you / yeah you got that good stuff but that don’t last / so I just can’t rely on you.”
“Only Love Can Hurt Like This” recreates a Temptations-era song. She croons in her lower register at the beginning, then channels the anger and belts out the chorus the rest of the way. “Only love can hurt like this / must have been a deadly kiss.” “Other Woman” is easily a reincarnation of The Supremes. With a chorus strikingly similar to “You Keep Me Hanging On,” it’s just another throwback for Faith.
But don’t think she’s just in the Motown era. Other singles, like “Impossible Heart” and “Mouth to Mouth” are dance tracks full of the 80s and disco vibe. “Mouth to Mouth” is Paula Abdul inspired, but all Paloma Faith. Singing about wanting “mouth to mouth” resuscitation should be corny, but it works. “Impossible Heart” sounds like the closing song to a movie like Mannequin.
In reality, there are just so many facets of style in this album that show Paloma Faith as a chameleon of sorts. The variety of songs should be slightly off-putting because it doesn’t show who she is as a performer until you realize that is who she is. She can wear the many masks of the Motown era, the 80s era, and become a disco queen. It doesn’t hurt that she also has the vocals to back it up.