Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?
SIN / Sony UK
By Giles Turnbull
Press play and the room transforms into a lively jazz-era dance hall, complete with house band. Onto the stage comes Paloma Faith, a British singer-songwriter, bringing with her a stylish infusion of pop, trip hop and soul, cutting through the atmosphere like lime in the gin.
These are big songs with big stories. It’s a wonderfully heady mix from start to finish, and it’s easy to see why this debut album hit the UK Top 40, staying there for over 40 weeks, and has already gone platinum.
With a résumé that includes dance and theater studies, magician’s assistant and film credits, it is no surprise that these influences have helped create such polished and vivid songs. Faith clearly knows what looks, feels and sounds great, and is happy to draw on influences, historic and modern, from jazz, soul, blues and world music. The result is a hugely enjoyable album that feels like it has embraced valuable lessons from some of the greatest exponents, and captured their spirit, but with her own spin.
Beginning with the 2009 debut single, “Stone Cold Sober,” the album has produced three further singles, “New York,” “Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful” and the delightful “Upside Down,” achieving mixed success in their native country’s singles chart.
Critics in the UK have generally been kind, applauding the album, though harping on about the authenticity of the “Broken Doll” sentiment in several tracks, and the similarities with another Brit, Amy Winehouse. Perhaps here in the States we’ve been spared much radio play of the less successful attempts by singers wanting to follow in Ms. Winehouse’s sozzled shoes, and perhaps that will help DYWTTOSB? to get a fair hearing on its own substantial merits, without the tired old comparisons with other artistes, piss or otherwise (Wikipedia, Piss artist: UK, slang. Someone who is frequently drunk). Frankly, this album is in a different league.
Without doubt, DTWTTOSB? deserves to be a contender for one of my album of the year picks, based on enjoyability and sheer sumptuousness of sound. It shows Paloma Faith not only as a girl with a great voice, but a gifted songwriter with an individual imagination too.