Trust me, people. Close your email for a second. Put your phone on silent. Take a few minutes to really listen to Paloma Faith, the British singer-songwriter who is picking up the soul-pop torch from Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Adele.
Paloma’s been rocking Europeans for a few years, but Fall to Grace, her second album, is her first U.S. release. And on just about every song, she rips your heart out with her voice. She has this incredible control… she can dip into her lower register and manipulate the notes to sound like a sob, then leap back up the scale into a hoarse, beautiful shout.
Perhaps inevitably, her mournful singing works best on heartbreak songs. Take the umptempo “Picking Up the Pieces,” which is her biggest hit in the U.K. The rolling beat adds extra urgency to the emotion in her voice, and because the lyrics about this failed relationship are so specific, you feel like you really understand what she’s upset about. “Found a photograph behind the TV,” she says. “You look so happy. Are you missing the way it used to be?” Images like let you imagine exactly what’s going on.
My absolute favorite Paloma Faith song is “Just Be,” a torchy ballad with some delicious theatrical touches. In the first chorus, my girl actually shushes her man! But because a true diva knows the importance of restraint, she doesn’t repeat that shushing until the very end of the song. Twice is enough, y’all. She has made her point. And besides, that frees her up to growl like a wounded love tiger.
So there you go. Paloma Faith. If you’ve listened, then feel free to reopen your email and turn your phone back on.
Previously: This is the most romantic song of 2012
Mark Blankenship will only shush you twice. Then you’d better look out. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship