Paloma Faith’s The Architect is dramatic yet swinging observation
Paloma Faith sure took her sweet time to bring us album number 4. Her previous and most successful record, A Perfect Contradiction, was released back in the spring of 2014. Faith disappeared from the spotlights for a while, gave birth to a daughter in December 2016, and now returns with the brand new album titled The Architect. And this is not just another record. Faith describes it as a ‘socio-political observation’. A soulful, dramatic and swinging one, I would like to add!
The album opens with a spoken intro by Samuel L. Jackson, encouraging us to ‘say something, do something… and most of all know that we can change things’. That is exactly what Paloma tries to do with this record. It all started with the disco and 90s R&B infusion of first single ‘Crybaby’, which encourages men to open up about their emotions. “Don’t have to man up, that phrase kinda sucks”, she criticizes the way society deals with male emotions. Second single ‘Guilty’, a dramatic and vivacious Bond soundtrack like tune, was written from the perspective of a Brexit voter who realizes they might have made a mistake.
The suspenseful, but also wildly catchy title track ‘The Architect’ is supposed to be about domestic violence, while Sia penned drama ‘Warrior’ was interpreted by Paloma as her take on the refugee crisis. ‘Surrender’ encourages to show kindness to homeless people and ‘Kings and Queens’ was inspired by Paloma’s relationship with a guy who became a victim of racial profiling by the police. These are all pretty big themes for a pop album, but Paloma handles them with care. The lyrical content is not very literal. Without her interviews, you would not necessarily recognize the themes on first listen. Most of them could well be about relationships as well, but at the same time that is the power in her songwriting. People can relate to these songs on a personal and a global, more political level.
In terms of sound, The Architect is a beautiful progression of the sound that Faith is already known for. Of course she still presents herself as a modern day soul diva with a pop heart and some notable disco influences. Her disco tendencies completely take over on the infectious ‘Til’ I’m Done’ that takes the 70s straight to 2017. ‘Power To The Peaceful’ is a cute and warm little anthem that seems to be taken straight from The Love Boat. The rest of the album ranges from soulful ballads like the John Legend duet ‘I’ll Be Gentle’ to the pure pop of ‘Kings and Queens’ with ‘WW3’ as a mesmerizing mix of the two genres. Paloma’s powerful, emotive, sometimes sharp and sometimes warm vocals are the binding element throughout.
Paloma Faith expressed her believe that it is the duty of artists to speak out about their believes, which is something she’s missing in modern day pop music. She fills this gap herself with a brave, but at the same time accessible record that touches upon big issues, but does not tell us how to think. Most of all, The Architect is a hope giving cry for some more kindness and compassion in the world, packed in a swinging mix of pop, soul and disco.
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