I was lucky to discover Paloma Faith right at the very beginning of her career. Normally I am the last person to discover anybody, but Paloma was the exception. I remember when I was practically the only person I knew who owned her album, of course nowadays that certainly is not the case.
Its been quite nice over the last 5 years seeing recognition for Paloma become greater with each one of her 3 albums, “Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful”, “Fall To Grace” and “A Perfect Contradiction” having been more successful than the last.
Paloma seems all set to become a national institution any time soon and its not hard to see why. She is a unique, imaginative and very special talent with a huge, captivating personality.
Now obviously this article will be looking at what I believe are her 10 best songs. I must admit this was a very difficult list to do. I honestly do love every song on each of her albums so to whittle it down to 10 was a very hard thing to do.
Still I have managed to pick what I feel are her 10 best songs and I hope any other Paloma fans who read this will agree with at least some of my choices.
10/ Upside Down
A very fun song from her first album. Its not as deep and poetic as many of her later efforts, but its still a great track none the less. It has a very 40’s feel to it. You could almost imagine someone like the Andrew Sisters singing it. That’s one of the best things about Paloma’s music is the real sense of good old fashioned fun to it, which I think is reflected in Upside Down better than any other song.
Another song from her first album. Stargazer I think it demonstrates what makes Paloma’s music stand out from her contemporaries. Stargazer conjures up absolutely beautiful, vivid and even surrealist imagery. “He circles Haley’s comet lights up the sky like a flame”. The song overall can be seen as example of Paloma’s over the top and eccentric imagination. Paloma has often been compared to the likes of Amy Winehouse and Adele. Its not hard to see why as obviously all three are very talented, soul singers who sing very real and relatable songs. However where Paloma is different and stands out from them is that I feel her work is more imaginative. Where as Amy’s are more gritty and dark, Adele’s are more sombre, Paloma’s are definitely the most whimsical and offbeat and I really don’t think any song demonstrates that better than Stargazer, which contains some of Paloma’s most creative lyrics.
8/ Picking Up The Pieces
The first song on her second album. Picking up the Pieces is a bit more of a straight forward break up song, about being in a relationship with someone who still can’t get over their ex. Its not quite as offbeat as some of the stuff on her first album. Though the video where we see Paloma as a melting mannequin certainly is! Still I would rank this as one of my favorites anyway as Paloma’s vocals on it are particularly strong.
7/ Only Love Can Hurt Like This
Paloma’s highest charting single to date. Only Love Can Hurt Like This is a very strong power balled. Much like Picking up the Pieces this song is really made by Paloma’s vocals. She really belts this song out at the top of voice and captures the nuance and pain of the powerful lyrics beautifully. Also like Picking up the Pieces its a more straight forward love song, but once again Paloma’s incredible performance more than makes up for it.
6/ Trouble With My Baby
This quick paced song from Paloma’s latest album is the perfect contrast to many of her slower, more thoughtful pieces. This song takes us into it right away and is fast and fun. The video as well also features a running gag in Paloma’s videos where she murders someone. This can also be seen in the video for Smoke and Mirrors where she chops a man in half.
5/ Black and Blue
A very thoughtful and incredibly deep song about the differences between people as well as the similarities that bind us all together. The song makes a point about how no one person can have it all, “I know a rich man who has everything you could ask for. Except children.” The song points out that no matter where you get to in life you will still go through periods where you feel sad, lonely, desperate and miserable, but that you will not be alone as everyone at some point also endures it. Regardless of your beliefs or status. Its part of what makes us human.
4/ Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful
The title track of her first album is a very powerful and moving song about how sometimes it can be better to live a lie than face the truth, which is sadly something that I think we can all relate to at some point in our lives. The song benefits from both its beautiful and poetic lyrics and Paloma’s vocal performance which is somewhat more understated, but still effective. I think the video for this song also demonstrates Paloma’s talents as an actress too as we see her switch between the happy lying persona and the miserable true one.
3/ Never Tear Us Apart
This cover of the song by Australian rock group INIX I feel is Paloma’s strongest cover song. Her powerful, emotive and soulful voice is perfectly suited to the song. I think this cover was a bit overlooked, though it was used in a John Lewis advert. Its no doubt due to how beloved the original is that this cover isn’t given the due, I feel it deserves. Still I think at the very least this cover matches the original if not surpasses it.
2/ Stone Cold Sober
Paloma’s debut single. This song has I think feels almost like a Bond theme at times. It has a real sexy 60’s feel to it yet at the same time also a somewhat modern sound too. Paloma is a master at being able to blend different genres as well as sounds from different era’s together wonderfully and you can see see that here in her first ever single perfectly. The song also demonstrates Paloma’s more theatrical nature both in its vocals and composition.
1/ New York
An oldie but a goodie. To me this is Paloma’s masterpiece. It has all the hallmarks of a truly excellent Paloma track. It has wonderful, poetic, imaginative lyrics “the wolves they howl for my lost soul”, strong vocals, a wonderful sweeping composition that benefits Paloma’s more theatrical nature and performance. Finally it also manages to really evoke an old fashioned sound too. This feels like the type of song that’s always been here. When you listen to it you think “I am sure I have heard someone else do that”, but then you read the booklet of the CD and you see it was actually Paloma who wrote it.
Finally this song also has a special significance for me as it was the first Paloma song I ever heard. I remember seeing it on a music channel. It was only the tail end of it, but it looked promising and so I looked it up on youtube and have been a devoted fan of Paloma ever since.