Fall to Grace
added: 28 May 2012
// release date: 28 May 2012 // label: RCA Records
reviewer: Dan MacIntosh
Paloma Faith is an unusual modern musical specimen. She is a bit of a throwback to those great soul singers of old. Not so much a balladeer, like Adele, who is one of her few contemporaries, but more of an Aretha Franklin powerhouse, sans Franklin's raw gospel leaning.
Her curious album title, Fall to Grace, turns a spiritual phrase on its head. Rather than falling from a place of sympathy, it speaks of dropping into safety, instead. These songs, which Faith also helped write, are not particularly spiritual. Instead, songs such as “Picking up the Pieces,” speak about the ins and outs of romantic love. “Picking Up The Pieces” utilizes a gospel-like choir, only in an emotional, secular manner the same way Madonna applied this same sonic tactic to “Like A Prayer.”
It’s surprising how restrained Nellee Hooper was in producing this effort. Hooper is best known for his work with Bjork and Massive Attack, which were also aurally adventurous, groundbreaking projects. However, with Faith, Hooper has seemingly placed himself in service of his special vocalist and mostly stays out of her way. For instance, “When You’re Gone” sticks with rather sparse rhythmic accompaniment so as not to draw too much attention from Faith’s singing.
Here’s to hoping Faith becomes an international superstar like Adele because there is a severe shortage in fantastic natural vocalists in today's scene. Sure, there are plenty of girls that look pretty singing, like Rihanna and Katy Perry. But these are not pure vocal talents the way Faith most certainly is. Just listening to the way Faith becomes conversational with her vocal during “When You’re Gone” is a special and rare moment. She’s not singing at you, as so many modern divas tend to do, but singing to you, instead.
From start to finish, Fall to Grace is an album that always rises beautifully to the occasion, which is why we can put our full faith in Paloma, without any reservation.
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