Let's ignore all Ami Winehouse references from the start because though the voice is similar that is where the comparison should end. Paloma Faith deserves to be considered on her own merits. With a background in dance and theatre Miss Faith is clearly a woman very aware of performance and composition in her music. At 25 years old she steps into a music scene which is primed for original female performers like her.
Opening track `Stone Cold Sober' feels like the swirling party that it depicts with soaring vocals, energetic horn sections and dynamic orchestration. The vocals have a confidence and swagger to them which makes Paloma stand out from the surrounding confusion which is entirely appropriate for a song about being the "sober" one at a party. It is a perfectly aimed opening track. It is followed by `Smoke and Mirrors' which demonstrates Paloma's theatrical awareness. It builds quickly between verse and chorus which is lead strongly by a good string section. Paloma's voice soars through the chorus. It sounds like she could fill any concert hall in the world effortlessly. Then rather than pushing on with another strong soulful chorus lead song the volume drops down to the lovely `Broken Doll' which rolls in with gentle drums and a soft flowing string section. It is the sound of a writer with a mature and considered approach, and the beautiful note she holds towards the end of the song sounds simply effortless and really adds an extra element of character.
The title track of the album is a strong song backed by relatively simple music composing a gentle piano part, well placed guitar and minimal strings. The result is to focus you on Paloma Faith's voice which is used to great effect throughout the track. It exhibits both soulful verses and strong swooping highs in the chorus. The strings subtly build through the track without ever over powering the effortless vocals. `Upside Down' is really good fun track with a bouncy drums section and a call and response chorus. The production makes it sound slightly like an old record but there is also a speak easy feel to it. `Romance is Dead' then twinkles and swirls with layered piano parts and swooping backing vocals.
Second single `New York' is a strong and slightly bitter track about betrayal by a lover. The actual story behind it is that Paloma Faith's boyfriend went on holiday to New York city once and then told her that he was never coming back because he had fallen with the city. The metaphor used in the writing of this song of depicting New York as a woman who seduced him works perfectly. Musically it is a fantastic song with a huge chorus in which Paloma is backed by a gospel choir that echoes her cry of "It was New York". Following track `Stargazer' starts with a twinkling piano part like the entrance to a dream. It is a broken hearted song with such strength of character that it will appeal to anyone who has ever loved someone without being loved in return, and the string section and chorus are a real highlight of the album.
The album finally closes out with `My Legs are Weak' and `Play On'. These two tracks play off eachother brilliantly with a simple piano part and dramatic orchestration in the first being followed by a mournful string section in the second which is like something crackling out of an early 20th Century radio. It is a strong finish to a very strong album.
Paloma Faith is a very talented woman and this has translated brilliantly into her debut album which is varied and intriguing with a good spread of pop songs that don't stick to conventions. Rather they are filled with her own soulful personality. This is a phenomenal debut.