Paloma Faith: The Architect – restoring our faith in political pop
In music, it’s fallen on the ladies of pop to do the hard work, to roll up their sleeves and roar at the top of their lungs about the state of the world today. Beyoncé, Kesha, Charlotte Church, Nicki Minaj have all attempted in their own way to shift the soft-porn solipsistic focus of the selfie generation to something outside this era of onanism.
Chirpy songbird Paloma Faith has been busy doing her bit too, inviting left-wing columnist Owen Jones to support her to chat about social issues on her 2015 tour, and telling interviewers she was trying to write about something other than heartache for her next album.
The Architect is the culmination of this process and has injected the singer with more vivacity than on her last effort, 2014’s thoroughly generic A Perfect Contradiction.
- Ariana Grande: Sweetener – celebrating the art of being okay
- Blood Orange: A tuneful trip to the corners of black experience
- Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis: Wild! Wild! Wild! – Great balls of fired-up rock’n’roll
- Death Cab for Cutie: Thank You for Today – nothing’s gonna spoil Ben Gibbard’s bad day
- Mitski: Be the Cowboy – singular songs delivered with wicked precision
The album booms into life with a spoken-word piece by Samuel L Jackson and is a surprisingly joyful journey of discovery and socio-political discourse. The Sia-penned Warrior is a beautifully affecting power ballad, sung from the perspective of a refugee, that manages to eschew tweeness through its open-heartedness. Power to the Peaceful is a Marvin Gaye-style anthemic apology to her new-born baby about the world they are inheriting. Even on the track Lost and Lonely, inspired by the haunting documentary Dreams of a Life, there is still a sense of tentative hope doled out through its Motown backbeat.
This is the politics of pop, an unashamed statement calling for humanity, love and empathy – with The Architect she is rebuilding Faith in more ways than one.