Paloma Faith

Fall to Grace

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The ten songs on Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?, Paloma Faith's U.K. Top Ten debut, were touched by over a dozen producers. For Fall to Grace, the follow-up, the singer worked almost exclusively with the duo of Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran) and Nellee Hooper (Massive Attack). Naturally, as a result, it's more of a piece than merely a collection of songs. That's not to say that Gosling and Hooper don't provide Faith with a wide variety of backdrops. There's synth pop that pulses, electro-disco that just about bursts, ballads that occasionally preen and frequently roar, and grand Phil Spector-meets-Baz Luhrmann pop that teems with florid desperation. The significant uptick in theatrical flair pushes Faith to put forth maximum-effort vocal showcases that place the sound of her voice far above the meaning of the song. This steamrolls the potential for subtlety and even humor; in "Blood, Sweat & Tears," "You tell me I'm a handful, but believe me, I know" is sung with the same level of chest-beating desperation as "We can conquer the world, leave our footprints on earth." For every bullseye, like the white-hot cover of the Northern soul favorite "Let Me Down Easy," there's a wild misfire, like the societal ballad "Black and Blue" -- the wrong material for a singer with a larger than life image and affected approach to singing. Commercially, she's faring well. Artistically, she's still coming into her own.

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