PALOMA FAITH / ANDREA GOLDSWORTHY
The background: There’s a whole generation of young females out there for whom Amy Winehouse is the Sex Pistols. Singing the blues (and soul) has, since the release of Winehouse’s Back to Black in 2006, been the new punk rock.
But three years is a lifetime in pop and, just as the Pistols’ spawn had to mutate into Something Else by 1979 to keep things moving, so by 2009 you need to have evolved beyond Winehouse’s torch-song shtick to keep the genre creative and sustain the interest of the public.
Well, you don’t have to. Luckily, Paloma Faith is that little bit different. She’s not exactly Ian Curtis to Winehouse’s Rotten – or indeed the PiL to her Pistols – but she twists the format just enough, so that people will believe she’s a new take on things.
She’s not the dubstep Winehouse or Amy-goes-electro; she doesn’t go that far. Instead she brings a vampish feel to proceedings. There’s an idiosyncratic high-pitched quality to her voice, a weird squeakiness and showy inflection, that have led to descriptions of her as “Björk meets Róisín Murphy while possessed by the ghost of Billie Holiday” or even “Portishead meet Piaf”.
She’s quite a sight, a mix’n’match of styles and eras, and she makes quite a sound – apparently she leaves people who have seen her live open-mouthed. “I can be wilder than the wind/190 miles an hour/I’m in a whole other dimension, dancing doubles on the floor/You think I’m crazy, a little bit hazy/But I’m stone cold sober,” she sings on her debut single, Stone Cold Sober.
In other words, unhinged is her regular state. But for manic read “mannered” – this is an act, and there is a certain staginess to what she does, to how she sings, that will doubtless appeal.
She’s quite a character. Half-Spanish (“paloma” means dove), she’s been a burlesque performer, a magician’s assistant, a “ghost” at a fun fair and an assistant for saucy knickers emporium Agent Provocateur. She’s a trained contemporary dancer, and studied at St Martin’s College where she got an MA in something called Time Based Arts.
She sings on the forthcoming Basement Jaxx album and has recorded two songs with high-haired troubadour Josh Weller. She’s an actress: she was in the St Trinians movie as Andrea the Emo and she appears in the new Terry Gilliam film The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus. And her concerts, where she’s backed by a band, are theatrical affairs that sometimes feature illusionists, fan dancing and singing blindfold. “Faith” is about right because she’s got a powerful belief in her own uniqueness. “Be prepared for all your senses to be touched,” she says. “I fly sometimes; sometimes I land with a thud. I am never what you think as I am multiple. I hope to grow and surprise you with what you least expect …”
That belief appears to be justified: Stone Cold Sober is being rush-released because it is being played on the radio four months early. Now we’re just waiting for her to release her Metal Box.
The lineup: Hamish Jackson (keyboards), Seye Adelekan (guitar, backing vocals), Matt Ingram (drums), Andrea Goldsworthy (bass), Lianne Charlotte Barnes (backing vocals).
Official website www.myspace.com/palomafaith
RS66LD Swing Bass