‘The Architect’, Paloma Faith’s fourth album, is big, bold, and brassy, and touches on Faith’s politics with a gossamer-light hand. It’s out today on RCA Records.
Opening with ‘Evolution’, a spoken word piece featuring Samuel L Jackson (yes that one) against some blockbuster style instrumentation, we realise from the outset that this isn’t any ordinary album. The 15 tracks go from full on disco, spoken word, and R&B, especially title track ‘The Architect’, which sees Faith channelling Amy Winehouse. Paloma joined by a plethora of artists, including John Legend on the somewhat cheesy ballad, ‘I’ll Be Gentle’, Samuel L Jackson as mentioned earlier, and Owen Jones on another slightly odd spoken word track, ‘The Politics of Hope’. Politics is the word: Faith wants to make a statement with ‘The Architect’ – she describes it as a “social observation record” – but it’s lost on this listener.
Our standout track is ‘Kings And Queens’, the upbeat tempo and style to our ears suits Faith much better than when she’s singing the lower range tracks such as ‘Surrender’. ‘Warrior’, is huge and anthemic, but again, the deeper sections of the track feel slightly beyond Faith’s comfort zone, and it’s when she gets to the chorus she really lets it rip where she’s at her best, the higher notes are her home.
‘Pawns’ is another spoken word piece, this time featuring Faith’s backing vocalists, Baby, Nym, and Janelle. It feels somewhat out of place, but adds weight to Faith’s intention of making this a political album.
Overall, ‘The Architect’ is a good album. It’s ambitious, failing in places, but it’s a welcome return to music for Paloma Faith, who will be touring the album from March next year. You can find tickets and further information on her website.